How to Navigate Evolving Business Landscapes

As business travelers' expectations evolve, companies must gain a deeper understanding of their travelers.

In todays complex travel environment, characterized by rapidly changing geopolitical, societal, and environmental events, employee well-being has taken center stage as companies navigate ever-evolving workplace dynamics. The rise of mental health awareness and the momentum of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts, coupled with the rapid advancement of technology, such as AI, have reshaped the modern workplace. These factors also haveextended their influence into business travel, addressing the unique risks encountered by vulnerable individuals during their trips..

In this transformation era, businesses must rethink travel protocols and safety measures to meet evolving demands. As business travelers’ expectations evolve, companies must gain a deeper understanding of their travelers, anticipate risks at destinations, and assess hazards tied to planned activities.

The needs of today’s corporate travelers go beyond mere convenience. They seek comprehensive pre-travel support that prioritizes their safety and well-being while on business trips. Amidst this evolution, a critical yet often overlooked concern demands immediate attention – the safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ travelers and other at-risk groups in a world marked by polarization.

Responsible Corporate Travel

The convergence of employee well-being, DEI commitments, and advanced technologies presents a unique opportunity for business travel. With increased domestic and international travel, effectively mitigating travel-related risks has become paramount. Political, environmental, and health threats necessitate a company-wide approach to pre-travel training to safeguard employee health and security abroad, preventing legal, reputational, and financial consequences for negligent organizations.

Companies must delve deeper into understanding the risks their travelers face to thrive in this complex corporate milieu. It is no longer about mapping itineraries; a comprehensive grasp of risk factors, such as individual identities, preferences, and concerns, has become essential. Anticipating risks at various destinations and evaluating potential hazards tied to planned activities are the new cornerstones of responsible corporate travel. This blend of empathy and foresight signifies a fundamental shift in how approvers and travelers perceive business travel.

Protecting Travelers

For LGBTQ+ travelers, challenges like discrimination fears, unfamiliar cultural landscapes, and legal disparities require tailored approaches. Cultivating a sense of safety empowers LGBTQ+ travelers to engage with the world more authentically. Integrating DEI principles into travel policies can provide a framework of reassurance tailored to this community’s unique circumstances. However, the actual notable change is AI technology. AI is rapidly evolving and beginning to offer invaluable support in 24/7 global monitoring. In future iterations, it has the potential to provide support in understanding geopolitical climates, cultural nuances, and legal frameworks, equipping travelers and employers with an informed perspective.

As the post-COVID travel landscape evolves, the convergence of employee well-being, DEI priorities, and technology exemplifies innovation and care. Business travel, once perfunctory, emerges as a realm where companies can tangibly exhibit their commitment to holistic employee experiences. This progress mirrors society’s growing awareness of diversity and the use of technology for collective betterment.

Incorporating Duty of Care into risk management is pivotal. Organizations are now responsible for employee well-being during travel. Fulfilling Duty of Care necessitates:

  1. Risk-Focused Travel Policies: Formulating company policies aligned with risk appreciation, organizational, and traveler needs.
  2. Effective Communication: Educate employees about health, safety, and security protocols.
  3. Crisis Management: Establishing emergency procedures for medical and security issues.

In the post-COVID corporate arena, understanding traveling employees, anticipating potential risks at destinations, and assessing hazards tied to planned activities are imperative. Companies must adopt an integrated approach to pre-travel training to ensure employee security and well-being.

Fulfilling Duty of Care Obligations

Ensuring employee health and security during travel is no longer optional; organizations must fulfill their Duty of Care obligations to prevent legal complications, reputation damage, and financial losses resulting from negligence. This approach underscores the understanding and management of risk ownership. Companies must prioritize staff well-being, including those in mobile and field roles, as neglecting these obligations can lead to legal battles or criminal charges.

Meeting the Duty of Care mandate requires a tailored pre-travel training program that encompasses key elements and collaborates with travel risk management providers for advanced tools and insights.

Comprehensive pre-travel training must cover vital areas:

  1. Pre-Travel Education and Awareness: Equipping employees with awareness about health, safety, security, and cyber threats, along with destination-specific details.
  2. Destination Risk Overview: Addressing regional challenges like political instability, terrorism, and crime.
  3. Health Considerations: Verify health risks at destinations and provide medical advice, care, or support for a safe trip.

Businesses can bolster travel risk management by emphasizing information dissemination and risk assessment. Equipping travelers with destination insights and timely alerts enhances the duty of care provided.

A word of caution: With the rapid advancement and implementation of AI technology in multiple industries, companies should not rely on machine-learning models to replace meaningful risk management strategies. Current AI models need constant human monitoring and updating, and security risk management requires accurate, up-to-date information and complex problem-solving abilities that AI cannot accomplish.

Preparation Is Key

Thorough planning is vital to respond effectively to travel emergencies. Robust pre-travel training and crisis management processes protect employees and prevent potential disasters. Integrating innovative location-tracking technology ensures swift assistance during emergencies. This integrated approach ensures employee safety remains a top priority.

Effective travel risk management involves a robust emergency response strategy and company-wide participation focusing on the traveler. Partnering with travel risk management firms enhances training and emergency handling effectiveness.

As businesses navigate change, employee well-being takes precedence. With a heightened focus on mental wellness, DEI principles, and technological advancements, business travelers expect practical pre-travel support. Incorporating Duty of Care into risk management is essential. Businesses must prioritize staff well-being. Post-pandemic, this juncture offers an opportunity to redefine business travel – supporting growth, acceptance, and understanding. Let each business trip become a transformative journey as we embrace this new era.

Frank Harrison
Frank Harrison is the Regional Security Director Americas, World Travel Protection.