Securing Leadership Commitment for Your Organization’s Travel Risk Management Programs

Author: Jacob Newton

Securing active leadership support for your organization’s Travel Risk Management (TRM) initiatives is critical. Organizations invest numerous resources into travel annually, and the potential impact of emergencies can be catastrophic. Furthermore, engagement by the individual traveler in the TRM program can be the most difficult to accomplish, but is pivotal because they are the ones who are being exposed to risks. Strong leadership support of the TRM program encourages this needed engagement from the travelers, therefore better protecting them and the investment made into each trip, while also increasing alignment with duty of care concerns. A recent study indicated that more than half of the surveyed travelers had to change travel plans due to concerns with their safety. The growing concern of traveler safety beckons leadership to make travel risk management a higher priority. Leveraging the following three considerations can help maximize leadership support, achieve the backing needed to actively address duty of care, and build a stronger, more effective TRM program as a result.

Analytics

Sourcing relevant data is an extremely powerful way for administrators to portray the necessity for quality leadership support. However, it’s important to note leadership support will look different for every organization. Some TRM programs may need active leadership involvement, while others may simply need leadership to allocate increased funding into the program. Regardless, this must be identified when it’s time to request their requisite involvement. Identifying this creates the foresight of what analytics may be necessary to support this request. Some beneficial data points to present would be annual travel spend, average trip cost, costs of any disrupted travel, and the cost to accomplish programmatic-related goals. Also, administrators should consider taking internal polls within their organizations to see how travelers think and feel about their current safety, as well as the resources that are currently available to support their travels. Lastly, it may be difficult to obtain, but any data that portrays the tangible benefits of accomplishing the aforementioned programmatic goals would be extremely valuable in providing additional context for decision-makers. This might be the amount of money saved on air travel that results from helping a traveler stay on their trip, rather than having to return home on a new ticket. Or, perhaps it is presenting data with the average cost of medical bills for a certain illness where exposure was avoided because of prior trip planning; regardless, the goal is to portray return on investment through meaningful analytics. If the program isn’t established yet, similar data is often available through industry associations or travel risk management service providers. Overall, data benefits any request for support because it removes any theorizing about the organization’s travel exposure.

Standards

                Standards published by industry or nationally-recognized authorities create a strong data point to obtain leadership support because they offer a proven model to be followed and compared to. Also, standards are objective, making them helpful for portraying unbiased necessity. Standards for TRM come from a couple different forums. One is the industry standard of care which derives from an organization’s duty of care. It’s the level of support organizations across the industry are currently providing to their travelers. If an organization finds their industry peers and competitors are far past what their organization is doing, it’s a quality data point to encourage leadership support. Second, is the legal obligation of duty of care, which is derived from Title 29 of the U.S. Code. However, this duty of care mandate is rather vague, so standards of care can assist with outlining accepted methods of practice. In particular, the American National Standards Institute is the United States’ representative for publishing national-level standards that generally have international recognition through the International Standards Organization (ISO). Currently in development is Travel Risk Management Standard 31030, to be published by ISO. Industry Associations also publish standards that help provide a recognized method of practice for the industry they represent. Knowing this information is critical because it provides quality references to explain to leadership the reasons why certain steps must be taken. Also, showing standards to leadership will offer authoritative clarity for what needs accomplishing, and offer accountability to maintain strength in the program. They also provide leadership with assurance when a program is being scrutinized, perhaps in court because of an incident, because standards are a doctrinal reference for what the program was abiding by.

Program Assessment

The final method for gaining leadership support is conducting a TRM program vulnerability assessment. This method focuses more on the individual organization, but is mentioned last because its use is stronger if supported by analytics and standardized information. Conduct a TRM program vulnerability assessment. If there is currently a program in place, assessing it will identify any gaps the program currently has. If there’s not a program in place, an assessment can help outline a roadmap of priorities needing to be accomplished. Organizations with the most effective TRM programs will continue to conduct these assessments over a standardized timeframe. If an assessment is benchmarked against standards like those previously mentioned, it will help identify what exactly must be done to either meet current standards or surpass them. The assessment process aids with encouraging leadership support through adding efficiency and transparency to the process.  The outcome of the assessment will allow leadership to see what the priorities are, and may offer basic steps for how that may happen. If funding allows, permitting a professional third party to conduct the assessment will offer further objectivity to the findings. As the program progresses, assessments help maintain leadership support because they are historical data of how the program has improved throughout the years.

Conclusion

The global travel risk landscape is constantly changing, and the importance of leadership involvement is crucial for a TRM program to have longevity. Leadership support may vary by organization, but outlining their requisite support as it applies to the TRM program can help build a stronger program, and address the stressors travelers are experiencing. Information that’s current and objective from analytics, standards, and program assessments may help foster that much needed support.

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