When travelling for business, we most often focus on our trip’s objective while inadvertently taking many other factors for granted. Sophie Harwood reminds us that preparing for the worst, and most importantly for the little things, is what guarantees a safer and securer business travel.
I recently wrote an article entitled “When business travel goes wrong” that described five travel mishaps I had experienced and listed four lessons learned from each of them. Whilst researching today’s article I looked back on those twenty pieces of advice and was surprised to discover that only three of them related to post-incident actions; the other seventeen are all things that should be done in preparation.
We rarely set off on a car journey without knowing that we have an inflated spare tyre and the tools to change the wheel, or at least the number for a break-down call-out service, even though we infrequently get punctures. Just so with travel, often nothing happens but we still get insurance and we should pay more attention to our preparation, especially for business travel when it can often be overlooked completely.
I know very few people who fail to prepare for a holiday; we read the brochures, buy travel guides, exchange money or get travellers’ cheques, learn some phrases, know what activities we’ll be doing, ensure we have the right insurance cover, arrange our airport transfers, and know how the hotel and nearby restaurants rate on TripAdvisor, to name just a few items.
All too often for business travel we head to the airport just with passport in pocket, e-ticket on mobile and an itinerary for meetings once at our destination. We assume that our name will be on a driver’s sign when we clear customs, that the company has booked a hotel with suitable security, and that any risks would be highlighted to us before departure. Whilst this works most of the time, when it goes wrong it can leave us in a situation for which we aren’t prepared.
Changing Face of Travel Risk
Nowhere on the planet is without travel risk and these risks can take on a multitude of different forms for different travellers. It is worth putting into perspective that the serious incidents that appear in the press are incredibly unlikely to happen. For the majority of business travellers, major security incidents such as terrorism, statistically, are a very unlikely occurrence. According to State Department statistics, you would do better to worry about the hotel’s pool, as you are more likely to drown while travelling than be affected by a terrorist incident.
The recent spate of driving attacks in Europe has raised fear levels, but the press doesn’t highlight that just being a pedestrian is already dangerous – according to 2013 World Health Organisation figures there are almost a thousand pedestrian deaths every day in the world. Pedestrian risk can be mitigated by walking facing the traffic, consider all drivers as a threat and only use official crossings.
I can attest from my own experience that the most likely incidents to happen to us are those that are unlikely to make the news – incidents such as pick-pocketing, road traffic accidents, luggage theft, or paperwork irregularities. However, they would still cause you considerable inconvenience, increase stress, and make you less productive – not an ideal situation on a business trip. The good news is that most of these can be mitigated by good preparation, both in terms of knowing what might happen and how to avoid it, as well as in terms of how to react if it should happen, so the incident can be dealt with efficiently and with the minimum of disruption.
About the Author
Sophie Harwood is the Women Traveller Advisor for beTravelwise. She specialises in travel risk mitigation strategies for women travellers. She is passionate about other cultures and has lived and worked in Zimbabwe, India, China, France and the USA. She spent several years working as a Security Risk Analyst for a Fortune 100 investment bank and as a Training Manager for a travel security consultancy. She has a BA (Hons) from University College London, an MA from King’s College London, a diploma from the University of Paris, and is currently working on her doctorate (researching women and war) at the University of Leeds.
beTravelwise offers a range of specialised training courses designed to support professional organisations in their travel risk management programmes. The training courses help clients educate their travellers about the travel risks they may face and how to avoid them. beTravelwise provides practical and cost-effective training solutions suitable for every destination, not just those designated high risk. Training seminars cover the key considerations for health, security, culture, road safety and individual preparation. By sharing relevant knowledge in an engaging way, beTravelwise promotes safe travel practices and policy compliance.