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Why duty of care should be a priority for business travel

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If your employees have to travel for business, it’s up to you to ensure their safety as far as possible and communicate to them what to do in the event of an emergency. And we don’t mean just in the case of major incidents and world events – it involves someone losing their passport, missing a flight or falling ill while abroad.

Duty of care should be considered a priority for all – no it’s not the preserve of larger firms. In fact, any employer is expected to develop and deploy appropriate travel risk management approaches to protect staff, courtesy of the UK’s Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.

Let’s face it, due to the slow growth of the economies in the West, many companies have looked further afield to the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India and China) as wells as the CIVETS (Columbia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa). As such, employees are sometimes required to travel to riskier destinations – and given the oft remote nature of the location, several firms have come to rely on travel management companies (TMCs).

One area which TMCs help with is offering local market knowledge such as the most cost and time efficient travel routes to take, as well as where to find suitable accommodation. Such information is paramount as a lack of infrastructure could limit transport and communication options.

TMCs also track the numerous chaotic delays the globe seems to have been facing – airport strikes and red lights for trains galore. If it’s one thing humanity has learnt, it’s that by travelling a greater distance you inevitably set yourself up for missed connections and weather disruptions.

Furthermore, to make the most a business trip, an employee is more likely to be sent to multiple stops, which only serves to increase the complexity of the travel itinerary. Knowing about such travel patterns in advance would ensure a smoother journey.

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Here’s the clincher, however. Travel policy is the corporate equivalent of the spleen. Both take care of themselves when functioning properly, and neither are, strictly speaking, necessary. But just because it isn’t necessary it doesn’t mean you should do without it. If you’re looking for a way to manage your company’s travel and expenses, the bad news is there’s no one-size-fits-all policy. The good news? There is a specific policy that fits your company, and like a favourite pair of jeans you’ll be able to wear it with anything.

This includes being able to use your TMC more effectively as it would be able to ensure that information is up-to-date at all times.

In terms of travel insurance, don’t assume that you’ll get coverage from your card card as many have a limit on the number of claims or the amount that can be claimed per year. There is also a chance that its emergency medical or evacuation coverage isn’t similar to that of a travel insurance policy.

Having a company travel policy would ensure employees can check for themselves what they are covered for – and if not, they can arrange a suitable alternative. The policy should also stipulate which emergency contact details travellers can use – something which they should keep with them at all times.

Making sure employees feel safe and taken care of should be one of your first port of calls, so ensure it becomes a key issue that needs to be addressed.

Laura Busby is regional sales manager at Corporate Traveller.

With news that business travel spending is on the rise – due to prices, not more business activity – one would think cutting expenses in terms of accommodation would be the way to go. It turns out that spending more is far better.

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