Travel Risk Management Training for the Traveler: Maximizing Program Effectiveness

An effective strategy for maximizing the effectiveness of an organization’s Travel Risk Management (TRM) program is by incorporating a quality training regimen for the individual traveler.  Training the traveler tends to be overlooked; however, it’s the individual traveler that can have the largest impact on mitigating the impact of incidents when they occur, or even ensuring these incidents don’t happen in the first place.  Therefore, training the traveler can have a significant return on investment for organizations, and ensures they’re not only prepared for risks they may be exposed to, but that travelers are aware of the emergency resources available to them if something happens.

When organizations include training as part of the traveler preparation and orientation process, it helps eliminate guesswork and hassles for travelers, and the frustrations that can occur as a result.  Making training part of a culture for commitment to traveler wellbeing helps maximize the degree of active participation in trip planning, thus enhancing duty of loyalty (the responsibility your travelers have to follow the policies and procedures you put into place to protect their health and safety).  Simply put: individuals that receive proper training are better equipped to help facilitate assistance, mitigate the risk of their trips being unnecessarily disrupted, and are better equipped with knowledge of how and when to simply resolve some issues themselves.

Identification of Risk Rankings
The first thing that needs to be accomplished when establishing a traveler training program is identifying the various levels of risk each traveler in the organization presents or will be exposed to.  Many government agencies and TRM providers like On Call rank countries on a scale that indicate certain risk levels. Understanding the risk ranking for each country or region allows for a determination of what level of training is needed for each rank.  For example, On Call scores risk on a scale from one to five.  Regions with risk levels one and two may only require base-level training, whereas areas scored as a five would require high-risk training proportionate with the increased risk.  Areas that rank three and four would then prescribe training that’s more in-depth than the base-level training, but may not have the increased exposure of the fifth rank.  It’s important to note that some personnel may present additional risks due to factors such as the nature of their work, knowledge of sensitive information that they may have, and/or their position/rank within their organization. Individuals who travel for extended durations also present additional risks. Increased levels of training should also be identified for these types of individuals even if they are traveling to a region with low geopolitical risk.

The Three Levels of Training
By scoring the travel risk, training becomes best provided in three levels for low, medium and high-risk travelers and should be commensurate with the risks they present or are exposed to.  Low-risk travelers would receive the base-level training required in order to travel.  This training can be succinct and would include basic travel safety information and what resources are available should something happen.  Medium and high-risk travelers would then receive more focused training given the risks they’ll experience.  For example, perhaps a high-risk traveler needs information on how to survive a hostage situation, whereas that’s not necessarily a foreseeable threat for medium-risk travelers.  Therefore, it’s critical to designate the level of risk for each type of traveler first, because the level of training required then becomes apparent.  This also helps maximize everyone’s time because then travelers are only receiving the training they need.  Then, if individuals would like more, they can pursue it on their own as desired.

An added benefit of outlining the levels of training required for each type of traveler is that it helps outline the content type and depth that must be provided for each traveler as well.  Government agencies, prevailing standards, and TRM providers offer information regarding what content should be included in the training.  Sourcing content from these organizations allows the training content to be from an authoritative source.  Generally, training will focus on these core areas regarding traveler health, safety, and security: pre-travel responsibilities, considerations, destination information, techniques during travel and actions during an incident, and post-travel considerations.  There should be continuity in the content across each level of training.  In other words, each level of training may include the same topics, but the depth and detail will increase from low risk to medium and high-risk travelers.  While training for higher-risk travelers may include extra information not discussed in the base-level training, it should still be harmonious with the minimum training provided.

Continuity is Key
Training for travelers should also be a continual occurrence.  Generally, refresher training should be provided for all travelers about every three years.  However, with increased risk, more specialized training may be provided at closer intervals.  Additionally, if personnel are traveling for longer durations with family, consider adding their families into the training as well.  Training is a pivotal component to an effective TRM program, so it’s crucial to continuously document those that have received training to maintain currency with status tracking and prove participation if necessary.

The emphasis needed for providing training to the individual traveler cannot be stressed enough.  It’s crucially important to educate travelers because their actions can make the difference in effective response or mitigation of potential emergencies.  Defining which travelers require increased levels of training and implementing tiered training will help create a stronger TRM program and add efficiency to it as well. Want to learn more about traveler training and preparation? Contact us today.