Friday 19 February 2016

GUEST BLOG: How to manage business travel risk with your TMC

Duty of care, risk management, traveller tracking – these are all topics that are high on corporates’ business travel agendas in 2016. But when addressing safety and security for their travellers, many companies tend only to focus on the obvious risks and threats – natural disasters, terror attacks and kidnapping. All too often they overlook the less obvious, but often more frequent incidents such as car accidents and medical emergencies. On top of that, consider the stress to your travelling employees and lack of productivity caused by flight delays and lost baggage.

Additionally every company has a different view of risk due to their corporate culture, their understanding of risk, the mitigation strategies they have in place and their exposure, or lack of exposure, to previous incidents. 

Understanding and managing threats and risk comes down to four very simple questions:

  • What’s the worst that could happen?
  • What’s the likelihood of it happening?
  • What would be the impact if it did?
  • What can we do about it?
Never underestimate however that what may not seem like a risk for one individual, could be very different for another traveller. Simple examples include: standing out from the local population, not being able to speak the local language and fatigue.

Steps of risk management
Each company needs to assess risk exposure based on their own business and employee base.

  • Identify the risk
  • Assess risk
  • Manage and control the risk (the 4 T’s- Treat, Tolerate, Transfer and Terminate)
  • Review & Report

Assess your organisation’s capability to manage travel risk effectively and develop a matrix in order to plot your company’s exposure to specific threats:

  • Risk to personnel
  • Risk to reputation
  • Risk to data/equipment
  • Legal risk
  • Financial risk
  • Risk to productivity and business continuity

How can a company know that they are getting the best out of their TMC when it comes to their risk management policy?
Effective travel risk management needs to be comprehensive, consistent and integrated into your chosen TMC. Robust pre-trip approval and data management are a fundamental part of the role of the TMC in assisting organisations manage and mitigate risk.

The value of a TMC is never more evident than it is when managing a major incident and the impact to travelling employees. A good TMC will set itself apart based on its ability to report, track, inform and assist. At Chambers, our new CTM Smart portfolio of technology applications features Smart Risk, a tool which provides pre-trip risk assessments by automatically alerting you to incidents, issues and alerts that could affect your journeys. Linked to individual travel itineraries, alerts can be personalised to ensure the information received is relevant and timely or more generic and issued to every traveller. Smart Risk also tracks employees booked on the same flight, ensuring compliance with travel governance policies.

How do companies ensure better communication of policies internally?
It’s not enough to formulate and publish a policy – it must be integrated into an organisation’s end- to-end processes from travel planning through to expense claims. Integrating any such policy into will ensure you involve your TMC who will help you mitigate risk before an employee travels and raise awareness around your policies.

How can companies better respond to risk?
Quite simply, understand what risk looks like for your company; develop a Risk Management strategy; document it; communicate it and understand how and who will assist you along the way in mitigating and managing risk.

This post was written by Alex Cousins, Director of Global Client Services at Chambers Travel Management (  Alex also sits on the GBTA’s Risk Committee.Chambers is exhibiting at Business Travel Show - register now for a free pass to next week's event: 


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