When Global Business Travel Goes Wrong

The husband of an employee calls you to tell you that his wife was seriously injured in an auto accident while traveling in Moscow.

You learn of a major earthquake in Nepal, where your organization tends to frequent for business purposes.

It is 3:00 a.m. and you receive a phone call from an employee saying that his travel colleague in West Africa has potentially been exposed to Ebola.

Are these movie pitches? No, these are actual business travel situations that Lisa Burkard, Managing Director of Spectrum Group Consulting Services, LLC, and Anthony (TC) Williams, Associate Director of Sales Operations for UnitedHealthcare Global, shared in their recent webcast, Global Business Travel—Risks, Trends and Solutions.

When Global Business Travel Goes Wrong

According to Burkard and Williams, most global business travel is uneventful, but when trips become eventful (medical or security threats), getting ahead of these risks, identifying the gaps and addressing concerns is integral to protecting the most important asset—people.

Organizations continue to expand their global operations because there’s nothing more important than the face-to-face interaction of a key client or business partner. However, more global business travel equals more global travel risks. Without a comprehensive global travel assistance program, businesses put their employees at unnecessary risk. Insurance programs such as an employee’s health insurance or the company’s foreign voluntary workers’ compensation coverage are often inadequate in these situations.

[Related: Foreign Start-Up Offices: Engaging Employees and Providing Benefits]

So what is adequate protection for traveling employees? Three components: Prepare, monitor, respond.

  1. Prepare: Create automated travel briefings pushed to employees upon booking; have online, destination-specific medical and security intelligence in place; offer training services for new travelers, especially those heading to high-risk destinations, and practice contingency planning for medical and security emergencies.
  2. Monitor: Use a travel tracking service that integrates into your Travel Management Company (TMC) as well as any other travel agencies. This way, employees can easily identify exposure to risk throughout the world. Monitor potential security threats or natural disasters in countries where employees are traveling, then identify and notify travelers in the event of an emergency.
  3. Respond: The hope is that employers don’t get to this step, however organizations still need to be prepared for appropriately responding to a medical inquiry, security threat or natural disaster evacuation.

Like many employee benefits related programs and policies, a comprehensive communications strategy is necessary for travel benefits to be utilized and valued by employees. As employees are readying their passports and greasing up their luggage wheels, they also should be prepared with the necessary information to protect themselves and their organization in those rare but serious times of global travel threat.

[Related: Certificate in Global Benefits Management]

Global Business Travel—Risks, Trends and Solutions was the first of three global benefits related webcasts. Foreign Start-Up Offices: Engaging Employees and Providing Benefits will debut on Thursday, August 31 and Open Office Hours: Let’s Talk Global Benefits is occurring on Thursday, September 14.

Anne Killian
Communications Associate at the International Foundation

Anne Patterson

Communications Associate at the International Foundation

Favorite Foundation service/product: The innovative member survey efforts and results from the research team.

Benefits-related topics that interest her most: Health care, nontraditional wellness initiatives, employee benefit communication.

Personal Insight: It’s all about balance with Anne. She loves to run and enjoys a good culinary adventure. She’ll jump at the chance to travel or to spend fun times with family and friends, but she’ll also take time to catch her breath with an occasional Netflix binge or diving into a classic novel.

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