Friday 17 January 2020

*GUEST BLOG* Travel risk management: Getting the board on board

A lot of organisations whose employees travel abroad will tell you that good communication between their board members and travel risk managers(s) is key to effective risk mitigation. After all, board members usually play a big part in defining risk management objectives – and risk managers can help them understand the contributing factors. 

But how can travel risk managers ease this often-complex process; demonstrating their importance to board members, presenting risk findings effectively and winning trust?

Opportunities, not threats

Problem-reporters, bearers of bad news, or even financial drains – travel risk managers run their own risk of being seen in a negative light by board members. And it’s up to them to ensure this isn’t the case.

Most important is the need to present risk mitigation as an opportunity – not just a threat or inconvenience. It’s the chance for a business to move ahead of the competition, not to be left behind.

Showcasing the effectiveness of risk management measures taken by other organisations in the same field can be a useful way of reinforcing this. So too can highlighting the potential long-term financial and employee wellbeing gains of protecting a business against risk - versus the short-term cost savings of not doing so.

The most effective travel risk managers will make themselves an indispensable and integral part of a business; not just an external 'check' on processes. They will work across an organisation, rather than simply imposing expensive and time-consuming measures on their board.

Building consensus

Often this can mean building consensus around both cultural and procedural business changes, to create improvements for everyone. Part of this is being aware of business-wide targets, pressures, challenges and current projects. 

Understanding what others are doing will enable travel risk managers to recommend measures that bolster the wider aims of the business and to win greater support for integrated risk management. Above all, risk reporting and mitigation shouldn’t be an isolated agenda item, handled separately from other business.

A bespoke approach can go a long way.  For instance, a risk manager who ensures that travel risk mitigation identifies truly individual needs is more likely to attract the attention of those holding the purse strings.  These needs may cover everything from repeat prescriptions for a travelling spouse, to the pre-existing medical conditions of a child, to the prevalence of destination-specific diseases en-route to a location.

Looking to the future

Staying on top of industry-specific laws and regulations is essential for senior managers who define risk management objectives. Board members need to be aware that best risk management practices are evolving as business models change. Again, this is where a travel risk manager can demonstrate his or her value.

Demonstrating value can also mean looking to niche external expertise. After all, effective travel risk management draws on real-time knowledge of ever-evolving global medical and security risks. It necessitates input from (among others) international medical and security specialists; travel managers; global networks of hospitals, doctors and transport suppliers and specialist technology providers.

In short, no effective travel risk manager can work in isolation: proactive collaboration and communication are fundamental to their success – and not just in engaging board members.

Written by Jonathan Brown, risk team manager for Charles Taylor Assistance; the travel risk management and medical assistance providers. Charles Taylor Assistance and security specialists Solace Global will be exhibiting Intrinsic Assistance, the integrated medical and security risk management and assistance solution at the Business Travel Show. Register for your free visitor pass now -

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