How Corporate Travel Fits into Risk Management

Mike Eberhard, President, Concur
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Mike Eberhard, President, Concur

Mike Eberhard, President, Concur

Enterprise risk management is most often discussed in financial terms. Aimed to minimize the effects of risk on an organization’s capital and earnings, it is traditionally measured in dollars and focuses on operational, financial and strategic business functions.

While this remains important and relevant, risk management has expanded over time, largely in part due to technological advancements and the changing world we conduct business in. An important and recent addition to risk management is corporate travel risk management—specifically, ensuring the safety of employees while traveling both abroad and domestic. However, it remains a challenge for enterprise leaders to effectively put into place due to gaps in corporate travel risk management practices and technologies.

Technology’s Impact on Globalization

Technology is transforming how we work, and who we work with, in ways that weren’t previously possible. Having data at our fingertips anytime anywhere means we’re no longer defined by geographic boundaries. Thanks to the cloud, we can more easily do business with companies around the world.

And indeed we are. The global economy continues to rise, with the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) predicting global business travel spend will reach $1.6 trillion by 2020.

 According to a recent survey by Concur and GBTA Foundation, nearly three in ten travel managers report they do not know how long it would take to locate affected employees in a crisis 

The rise in globalization comes at a pivotal time. Geopolitical uncertainties, violent acts and natural disasters are occuring in destinations normally deemed safe. At the same time more and more companies are sending their employees out to do business worldwide, which means employees are entering potentially unstable environments.

In this environment of increasing unpredictability, companies can’t simply send employees out and hope for the best. In fact, they have a legal and moral obligation, known as duty of care, to ensure the security and safety of their employees anytime, anywhere.

Corporate Travel Management and The Gaps in Duty of Care

Surprisingly, though, many companies do not have the proper technology in place to fulfill this obligation. According to a recent survey by Concur and GBTA Foundation, nearly three in ten travel managers report they do not know how long it would take to locate affected employees in a crisis. Additionally, three in five travel managers rely on employees to reach out if they need help even if they did not book travel through the company’s designated travel management program. With 42 percent of travelers preferring not to book through a company’s program, the number of employees potentially left unprotected is staggering.

Failing to establish and communicate risk avoidance and safety measures leaves travelers and organizations vulnerable. If a crisis or incident occurs, it is critical that businesses are prepared to quickly locate employees, determine who may need assistance and provide the support necessary to ensure their safety. If technology can help companies conduct business around the world, it can surely ensure the safety of employees making it happen.

How Travel & Expense Data can Connect the Dots

Just as data can break down geographic barriers, travel & expense data can be leveraged to pinpoint and communicate with business travelers. If gathered and used effectively in real-time, this data can serve as a key element of a company’s corporate travel risk management program, enabling companies to fulfill duty of care requirements and ensure employee safety and satisfaction.

As companies look for technology to establish or enhance their corporate travel risk management programs, they should ensure it includes multiple sources of travel and spend data that is:

1. Consolidated and Automated: As most enterprises know, data of any kind is only valuable if it is accurate and up to-date. In times of crisis, companies need to be able to quickly access real-time data to accurately locate potentially affected employees. At Concur, we have delivered cloud-based solutions that enable automated data aggregating and updating, across an unprecedented number of sources so it can immediately become actionable.

2. Comprehensive and Connected: To quickly and accurately locate traveling employees in the event of a crisis, companies need to rely on more than just flight and hotel booking information. An effective travel risk management program will leverage data from a number of feeds, such as a business traveler’s travel itinerary, expense line items, supplier e-receipts and more, so employees can be precisely located at a moment’s notice.

3. Communicative and Supportive: Once at-risk employees have been identified, enabling rapid two-way communication via multiple channels is key to alert employees of the potential risk and quickly identify if they need assistance. If an employee confirms they are in danger, having a risk management technology solution that integrates with an on the ground support provider is crucial to ensure healthcare or extraction is provided when necessary. Additionally, 24/7 active monitoring from a solution provider is critical to ensure someone is always on and tapped into the necessary data even when the business is closed.

As business leaders we all have a responsibility to know where our employees are and keep them safe and informed. I believe strongly that developing a travel risk management program, powered by data, is the right investment. Ensuring the safety and security of your employees as they conduct business, is the responsible and financially prudent action to take.

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