Business travellers lack emergency support

Jul 26 2007 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Whether it is political unrest, terrorism or natural disasters, the world seems to be becoming a more dangerous place. Many business travellers think so too – but they're worried that their organisations simply aren't sufficiently prepared to help them in the event of an emergency.

A survey of more than the 1,009 US and UK business travellers by risk consultancy, Control Risks, has found that almost half believe that the world will become a more dangerous place for them over the next five years.

Four out of 10 of Britons and a third of Americans employees also believe that business travellers are becoming more attractive targets for extremists or terrorists than other travellers.

But despite these fears, six out of 10 have little confidence that their firm would be in a position to help them in an emergency.

Almost two-thirds of UK firms and half of US firms that send staff abroad have no clear travel security policy, the survey revealed.

What's more, half the American travellers surveyed said that they didn't have a contact number in case of a crisis abroad, while almost a quarter said they wouldn't know who to contact if they did.

Even more concerning in the UK is the weak support systems for employees abroad – more than half of the British companies surveyed offer no form of in-house or external security support whatsoever.

US business travellers are far better catered for, the survey suggested, with around three-quarters having access to some sort of support services either within their company or outside.

"Despite a perception by travellers that the world is becoming more dangerous, some companies have not attempted to redress the balance by putting a credible support structure in place," said Hannah Kitt, Control Risks' director of travel security services.

But as she pointed out, this complacency on the part of employer risks opening the floodgates to legal action if something does go wrong.

Eight out of 10 American. business travellers and almost nine out of 10 of their British colleagues said that their company had a legal obligation to ensure their safety while travelling abroad on business and half would consider taking legal action in the event of an emergency being mishandled.

"Increasingly, companies from all sectors face a potential legal responsibility to demonstrate duty of care towards employees," said Control Risks' Laura Winthrop.

"Creating and maintaining a robust travel security program is an extremely important part of that. It will ensure the safety of employees while helping the firm to avoid costly legal and reputational fall-out if something goes wrong."

As companies continue to globalize and move into emerging markets, threats to business travellers increase," she added.

"This report tells us that employees feel more exposed to potential dangers but they don't have the support necessary to ensure their safety."