Travel Risk Management as a Competitive Advantage

by: VMware Senior Manager, Physical Security EMEA Gian-Rico Luzzi

In general, incorporating comprehensive travel risk protocols has not been a high priority for organizations. However, with continued globalization, industry expansions and an ever-growing mobile workforce, there is a real need to adopt what is known as travel risk management (TRM). 

A risky proposition? Quite the opposite

There are a number of well-founded reasons to employ TRM practices, many of which are mission critical to a company’s growth and continued success. They encompass managing employee health, safety and security (HSS), compliance, strategic, reputational, financial, and operational risks.

HSS risk incorporates the physical risk to employees and company liabilities relating to injuries, sickness, disease, physical or sexual assault, theft, robbery, kidnapping (of which there are several types), and even death. Compliance risk incorporates issues such as criminal and/or civil prosecution for breaches of regulations or laws relating to duty of care, health and safety, corporate manslaughter, tax, and immigration. 

Strategic risk incorporates both the positive and negative risk to environment, social responsibility and governance (ESG) goals, as well as access to emerging markets. A company’s reputation can be endangered by a lack of (or deficient) risk management processes, as well as failures in incident or crisis management. Likewise, failed assignments, fines, unexpected costs, evacuation costs, and medical repatriation can create significant financial risk. 

Finally, operational risk takes into account a wide assortment of potential issues. These include the loss, delay or detention of key personnel; failure to overcome an incident and/or resume normal operations; a breach affecting data, confidentiality, networks or systems; a loss of assets or intellectual property; and a trip or corporate event failure.

A new secret weapon (that’s maybe not so secret!)

Glowing treasure chest

While the concept of enterprise risk management is no secret, it can often seem like adopting TRM is. That’s why companies need to promote a culture where the risk related to business travel and employee mobility is treated seriously (and openly) by top level management—in addition to being resourced adequately and managed effectively. 

TRM initiatives protect employees, information, intellectual property, and assets in ways never before seen — so much so that they become a competitive advantage. By adopting TRM, legal and financial risk exposure in context is greatly reduced, yet conversely organizations can better pursue business opportunities in volatile and/or high security risk locations—areas traditionally left to those ‘not faint of heart or oblivious to the potential danger.’ As an added bonus, incorporating TRM means employees have greater confidence in travel-related health, safety and security arrangements—regardless of itinerary and destination. This allows them to focus on the task at hand and be their most productive.

Combined, these advances enhance an enterprise’s reputation, with a positive effect on sustained growth, staff churn, and talent acquisition. In fact, it solidifies customer relationships—today and in the long term—as it helps organizations to exceed customer business continuity expectations. Customers come to trust the enterprise regardless of business conditions (pandemic, civil unrest, etc.), making it more difficult for competitors to gain inroads.

Companies who are shifting to a work anywhere business model can also reap the benefits of TRM by incorporating their mobile employees into the TRM umbrella. This ensures that the right amount of oversight and risk assessment is applied to support the flexibility being offered. 

Likewise, organizations adopting TRM can ensure that they are taking into consideration the diverse characteristics of the traveling population. LGBTQ+, women, BAME*/BIPOC** and persons with disabilities are all exposed to additional risk, dependent on the travel location. TRM ensures diversity is carefully considered and the specific risks are managed—more proof of TRM being a competitive advantage. 

TRM is an emerging paradigm shift that is taking center stage in today’s enterprises, primarily due to its remarkable potential. Learn more about this topic with our ISO 31030 (the new TRM standard) blog, and be sure to check back for future TRM blogs.

*Black, Asian, and minority ethnic **Black, indigenous, people of color

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