Our World Travel Protection experts share their business travel safety checklist for essential travel during COVID-19
The state of business travel certainly looked different in 2020. Despite the majority of businesses limiting non-essential corporate travel as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, essential business travel continued to occur.
Organisations with significant global assets and infrastructure often require key people to attend sites to perform their work – such as engineers and technicians – and have people in expat roles who may need to relocate or conduct work in other areas, which ensures some business travel remains vital.
Thanks to restrictions easing, global borders reopening, and a global rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, business travel will not only continue to occur in 2021, it will also increase in numbers and frequency, too.
As a result of this, organisations need to ensure business travel safety and security measures are in place for those in their care. “Obviously, business travel is complex at the moment, but with the right risk management approach it can be achieved safely,” says Adrian Leach, Chief Executive Officer for World Travel Protection.
To understand how you or your company can go beyond basic duty of care and keep corporate travellers safe, discover our expert business travel health and safety tips to help ensure a smooth, safe and secure business trip.
Checklist: travel safety tips for business travellers
Most companies or institutions with travelling personnel will already have travel risk management policies and procedures in place, however, the coronavirus pandemic have created new, unique safety and security risks for business travel.
Here’s what you need to do to help ensure your corporate travellers are protected from avoidable risks while travelling in 2021 and beyond.
#1. Conduct a thorough pre-travel risk assessment
There’s a reason the saying ‘forewarned is forearmed’ is so popular. If you know the potential health, safety and security threats and challenges that may lie ahead, the more you can plan to mitigate those risks.
We recommend you conduct a thorough travel risk assessment of the intended destination prior to travelling even if the business traveller has visited the location previously.
This travel safety checklist includes assessing the:
- political and economic climate
- current rate of COVID-19 infections and its spread, including the risk surrounding relevant COVID-19 hotspots and how to access to testing facilities
- travel restrictions or limitations, public health measures, lockdown laws or quarantine rules, and the implications if they change
- availability and access to quality healthcare and medical support if its required
- area surrounding booked accommodation
- safest travel options within the city
- local culture and customs
#2. Brief the business traveller on the assessment results
This is the next essential piece of the business travel safety puzzle – not only in terms of educating to corporate traveller on the destination itself, but to help minimise the risk of COVID-19 infection for locals and other travellers.
Provide your business traveller/s with a handbook containing the information gathered about the destination, including:
- local points of interest, including restaurants, pharmacies, cafes, doctors, testing facilities
- potential risks and threats to safety and security
- a guide to customs and cultures, including public health and safety rules that are in place
- tips for getting around safely
- key contacts, numbers, apps and resources available for tips, assistance, communication and help
- an itinerary for the entirety of their trip
We recommend you also advise solo business travellers – especially females – on some of the extra precautions that should be taken at the destination if relevant. This includes dressing appropriately according to local customs, keeping a low profile by limiting jewellery worn and keeping any tech items concealed, being cautious of public transport, and always ensuring they are carrying a fully charged smartphone (and even a portable smartphone charger if possible, too).
#3. Implement best practice COVID-19 hygiene habits
“To maintain continuity, businesses conducting corporate travel during the pandemic are taking a heightened level of risk management, which starts with the basics of social distancing and good hygiene,” says Leach.
Ensure all your business travellers are up to date on travel hygiene best practices, and follow the health guidelines to keep themselves – and others – safe.
Adrian Leach’s essential tips for business travel hygiene
- Wear a mask
- Use hand sanitiser
- Maintain social distancing standards
- Avoid face-to-face meetings where possible
- If available, create a closed-loop travel arrangement that can include the use of corporate or charter jets, rather than commercial airlines
- If feasible, create a bubble within an operating area to ensure employees do not come into contact with the local population and operate effectively through appropriate testing and industrial hygiene practises
#4. Be alert for increased theft and fraud
“As the economy becomes more depressed, and people are either losing jobs or working reduced hours, they’ll be looking for new avenues to make money,” says Rodger Cook, Regional Security Director at World Travel Protection.
Business travellers are likely to be the biggest targets as they’re among the few people still visiting other countries and tend to carry with them high-value items, like laptop computers and smartphones.
“Because of this, business travellers are more likely to be exposed to fraud, cybercrimes, scams, and crimes such as mugging, hotel room theft, and possibly kidnappings in certain destinations,” advises Cook.
Rodger Cook’s top tips for business travel safety and security during COVID-19
- Do your due diligence and research on the destination and engage with a specialist provider who understands the variety of risks you might face
- Maintain a low profile and make sure tech is protected
- Avoid logging into unfamiliar Wi-Fi hosts in airports and hotels that may not be secure. If breached, companies risk the employee’s personal details being captured as well as potentially sensitive corporate information
#5. Monitor the situation with real-time updates and information
“The world’s not the same at the moment,” says Cook, and a lot can change in 24 hours.
This is why it’s increasingly important for your business to have immediate access to accurate, up-to-date information that allows you to closely monitor changing situations across the world and communicate with your business travellers in an efficient way when needed.
“At World Travel Protection, we’re fortunate to have terrific intelligence that is constantly being updated,” says Cook.
“A lot of businesses, particularly SMEs, don’t necessarily have the resources to identify threats and make informed decisions that enable business travel to continue.
“Our corporate clients are able to access our Travel Assist Risk Management Portal and read up-to-date information provided by our analysts.”
This expert business travel safety and security information can then be used to make decisions about your business travellers’ future movements, as well as be incorporated into your internal company risk management processes for future use.
How World Travel Protection helps provide safe business travel
Information, access, and support are key when it comes to business travel health and safety – even more so during a global pandemic. At World Travel Protection, we invest heavily in our travel risk management tools to ensure 24/7 assistance is available for our clients and those in their care.
“It’s important travel risk management companies can provide timely advice when needed through easy communication channels, and have the right key medical and security people in place when an issue escalates,” says Leach.
To learn more about our World Travel Protection travel risk management tools and expert staff who can help protect you and your business travellers from risks, schedule a demo of our Travel Risk Management Solutions by filling out the form below.