Avoiding a Crisis
The ultimate goal for any TRM Program should be to promote crisis avoidance over crisis response. The only way to measure the programs effectiveness is much like any other safety program; how many days without incident?
Even if the program employs top notch first responders and its own fleet of evacuation jets, there will always be negative fallout from a crisis. The only way to be truly successful is to train TRM personnel and organization employees to avoid a situation if possible, and react when necessary.
Statistically, most of the situation’s travelers find themselves in are avoidable. In after action reports and case studies regarding traveler crisis, the same words are uttered repeatedly……. "if only I had known”. Knowledge is the key.
All travelers should receive a briefing or report on the location they are traveling to. Managers often rely on vendors to provide this information to their employees, but once again, most vendors are providing high level reporting that is based on threats only. If an organization wants to promote avoidance, they may have to get into the weeds a bit and provide individually tailored reports that factor in vulnerability.
If the TRM Program is already measuring risk properly, they should have all the information they need to provide tailored reports to their travelers. Pretravel reports should consist of the following information (at minimum):
General location information
Weather (specific to the itinerary)
Recommended Mitigating Factors
Consulate Information (based on the traveler’s nationality)
Local emergency services (if available and reliable)
Organization emergency response procedures
Travel insurance policy information
A well crafted pretravel report should be concise, brief and easily understood. It should not be written above a fifth-grade comprehension level.
It is also recommended that the bottom line up front (BLUF) method be used, as many people will subconsciously gloss over the information. The report writer should give the reader the critical information on the first page and use the rest of the information to bolster those BLUF points.
Although the entire report is critical, very rarely do travelers want to read about all the bad things that could happen to them while traveling abroad. It might make them change their mind about travel.
Risk Mitigating Services
One of the goals of a good TRM Program should be to keep travelers going, in the safest way possible, promoting organizational growth as well as individual experience. If employees stopped traveling every time there was a crisis in the news, nothing would ever get accomplished.
Often the ability to continue on with the mission is not possible, without help from an outside entity, like a close protection company or a contracted driver service.
Many managers view these types of services as a costly service for high level executives only. The cost benefit analysis for risk mitigating services should consider the long term consequences of sending any employee into a higher risk area. If the traveler is not familiar with the terrain or culture , there is a significantly higher probability of an incident that could cost the organization for many years.
There are numerous services in the market today that provide tailored travel services, including security, secure transportation and executive assistant services. Managers should take the time to considers these services, as they not only can provide for the safety of travelers, but also a guide while that organization gets used to the norms of the location they are visiting or relocating to. A good protective security provider can not only keep you safe, but increase organization efficiency and growth as well.
Trip Cancellation Criteria
There may come a time that the TRM Program recommends the cancellation of a trip. This is a tricky task as the TRM Program is not typically the decision maker, but an advisory section to operations management. If the program is constantly telling the operations manager that they should not let their people travel, TRM will be labeled as paranoid and stunting growth.
If the TRM Program knows that travel to a location is dangerous and does not warn travelers, they could be looking at the loss of their position (at minimum) and even criminal negligence charges. There is a balance and numerous ways to ensure efficient operations in a safe manner.
If TRM Program personnel identify a trip as being high risk and potentially not worth it, there are a few options they can propose to managers that put the decision on those mangers, not the TRM Program (as it should be).
Is there anyone in the organization from the destination area that might be able to go? Using a local typically lowers the vulnerability level of the traveler and the risk of the trip.
Is the mission something that can be accomplished via a virtual meeting? Often a face to face conversation is preferred for many meetings, but is it necessary and is the payoff the same?
Are there cultural factors that cause the trip to be higher risk and is anyone on the team more familiar with the culture at the destination?
Is gender a factor and is the employee willing to travel with someone of the opposite gender?
Is timing a factor? Can the trip be postponed? Often people book travel unwittingly during religious holidays or political events.
As the world continues to shrink and more and more people travel for business, the threats will change and risk levels will rise. Getting in front of those changes with a TRM Program that is prepared and proactive will pay for itself.