Although terrorism and political violence are growing threats to business travellers, the major risks are still road traffic accidents and influenza, warn panellists on yesterday’s travel risk debate

Business travel

Managing corporate travel risks effectively requires a “back-to-basics” approach and a focus on the “real risks”, according to Danny Chan, regional director (risk management) at Marriott International.

Speaking to StrategicRISK about yesterday’s panel on travel risks, Chan said: “Terrorism and social integration issues sound sexy, but these risks do not represent the biggest threats [to travelling employees]. The major risks are road traffic accidents and influenza.”

Chan’s comments reflect recent data from International SOS, which indicate road accidents as one of the biggest threats to business travellers.

The company, which provides medical, clinical and security services to international travellers, said road accidents are one of the top five reasons why it performs medical evacuations.

Influenza is also a growing concern, with several strains of infectious and potentially deadly flu viruses in the world.

“Having basic policies such as yearly influenza and safety-belt policies will go a long way,” Chan said.

“Risk managers should help to identify the real risk and work with the relevant stakeholders to put the mitigation measures in place.”

Indeed, businesses are under greater obligation to ensure the health and safety of travelling employees against risk of disease and pandemics.

Dr. Philippe Guibert, regional medical director (Asia) at International SOS, and one of the panellists on yesterday’s debate, cited advice from the World Health Organization’s 2007 World Health Report.

He said: “[The report] also applies to businesses. The mindset of organisations should be to provide and maintain measures aimed at protecting the health of [employees], including travelling ones. The only effective approach is for risk managers, security and mobility [departments] and human resources to work closely together on this.”

But duty of care does not only lie with employers. Travelling employees as well as expat workers also have a part to play in minimising their own exposure to health risk and pandemics, said Guibert.

“Travelling employees must make a concerted effort to fully understand the risks and take preventative measures. And it is down to risk managers to clearly communicate what is expected “of both parties to lower everyone’s exposure”, said Guibert.