Author: Jacob Newton
The establishment and maintenance of an effective Travel Risk Management (TRM) program is a task that requires the attention and involvement of several stakeholders in order to meet the desired outcome: the safety of the travelers it’s intended to protect. Furthermore, it can be tempting to implement a variety of available solutions just to check the proverbial “Duty of Care” box. However, a few tangible components can help administrators understand the architecture of a program and identify the quality.
There are four primary components to consider: Preparation, Planning, Execution, and Adaptation. Each of these outlines a key component in the process of implementing and maintaining an effective TRM program. Understanding each component’s place in the spectrum is a great place to start when identifying a program’s strengths and weaknesses.
When the need to develop a TRM program is recognized, a process begins to identify what should be included. This is the preparation process, and it’s important for organizations to ask themselves key questions such as: Who will run this program? What risk exposure do we have? What insurance and assistance coverage is necessary? How will this program be implemented?
During this preparation phase, administrators are well-served to develop the policy and doctrine that will drive the program. First, they should consider the various roles program stakeholders will have in the program and also identify how leadership will support the program, how participants may efficiently utilize the program, and how primary support personnel will effectively manage the day-to-day aspects. Next, they can establish an education and training program that informs each level of the program’s stakeholders and participants. Lastly, administrators should consider what equipment, if any, will be needed to make the program successful. This may be technology, tangible items travelers may need to take with them on their trips, or even documentation that allows the program to operate.
Open and steady communication by all stakeholders in this stage is critical because this is the foundation for how the program will operate.
Following the establishment of a TRM program, an organization’s stakeholders should now begin to use the framework to plan for, and gain understanding of, for the organization’s risk tolerance regarding travel to specific areas around the world. Because a policy, for example, will be overarching, this planning process will allow for it to be adapted to specific regions of travel as needed.
This is the time to assess each travel environment for area-specific risks. Ensure the personnel at each level of the program understand their obligations for any given trip or area. This is also when training should be rolled out. Taking the overarching TRM program and applying it to an organization’s specific operations is the goal during this phase.
Once the necessary planning has been fulfilled, the next component is execution. For administrators, constituent travel is primarily a time for monitoring, readiness, and response to any issues that arise. It’s because of this phase that the need for a TRM program exists in the first place. How prepared is the organization to respond and recover from the risks they’ve identified?
The better an organization can answer that question, the higher the likelihood that they can effectively handle any issues that occur. This phase will be the true test for how well TRM program administrators operate together and communicate with each other. Communication here is pivotal for effective incident response, which is why it the preparation and planning phases are crucially important.
Following the conclusion of constituent travel, regardless of whether emergencies occurred, it’s necessary to take an honest review of how the trip went and what could be better accomplished in the future. How well did the policies administer the program? Were travelers prepared enough to utilize the resources provided? Were tasks during a crisis acceptably accomplished with the resources available?
Any identified improvement areas must then be incorporated into revisions of the program. It’s a “living” program designed to effectively equip travelers and mitigate risks. So, organizations should develop their programs to be firm enough to have quality structure, but flexible enough to incorporate positive enhancements.
Programs often place considerable emphasis on the execution component. Notice that’s only one component of four. Instead, placing equal emphasis on all four components – Preparation, Planning, Execution, and Adaptation – will help resolve issues faster and increase the possibility of preventing more issues in the future.