Today‚Äôs global organisations have a large number of employees working as international assignees, expatriates and business travellers. Employees who travel across borders often find themselves in unfamiliar environments and situations, subject to increased risks and threats, and less prepared to handle these situations than if they were in their home country.
As a result, employers carry an increased ‚ÄúDuty of Care‚ÄĚ obligation to protect their employees from these unfamiliar ‚Äď yet often foreseeable ‚Äď risks and threats.
Prevention is key
In an ever-changing and volatile world, the growing focus is clearly on prevention and risk mitigation. Our statistics have shown a positive trend of an emerging risk management culture where risks are managed efficiently and effectively. A recent study by International SOS Foundation also showed that there are tangible commercial incentives to investing in preventive programmes.
It is evident that corporate meeting planners can no longer ignore the importance of having a robust business continuity plan to ensure the safety of their attendees, and they must take proactive steps to minimise and avoid costly emergencies and evacuations.
For them, being able to identify a suitable business event destination based on a sound understanding of the health and security risks of the destination is crucial. Preparation ‚Äď including a risk assessment, education and health check programmes ‚Äď will reduce the need for intervention during and after travel. In the case of an emergency, in addition to taking certain precautions, the onus lies on corporate meeting planners to make sound decisions as to whether or not an event should be cancelled.
Medical and travel security risks can easily escalate at short notice during a crisis or evolving situation. The bombing incidents in Bangkok and Jakarta last year were painful reminders that one could easily become a victim of an attack even in urban ‚Äď and typically perceived as safe ‚Äď areas. In such time-critical situations, having access to up-to-date intelligence and actionable advice from a trusted source are absolutely critical for corporate meeting planners to assess whether or not to proceed with an event.
To better prepare corporate planners, we advise the following top 5 action tips towards assessing risk and preparing for emergency situations on the ground:
1. Identify specific health and security risks at event location
2. Ensure event delegates are prepared for the trip ‚Äď this can be in the form of either pre-travel briefings or sending notifications that includes relevant medical, security and itinerary details
3. Set up an online platform hosting critical information about the destination country and make it easily accessible for delegates and/or business travellers
4. Ensure first aid kits (or stations) and evacuation routes/plans are in place in case of emergency
5. Have a reliable partner, with the necessary medical and security expertise, to support you on the ground
As international travel continues to be an inevitable part of global meetings and conventions, corporate meeting planners need to manage their duty of care responsibilities by strengthening their capability to protect the health and safety of delegates. Our call is for corporate meeting planners to step out of their day-to-day mind-set and think about the success of events at a broader level, which includes delegate welfare. Beyond the delivery of a grand event to your guests, true success also hinges on the organiser‚Äôs security, safety and crisis management capabilities.
Philippe Guibert is the Regional Medical Director, Consulting Services, Asia at International SOS, integrating a risk management framework into an organisation’s broader policies through education, information, preparation and prevention.
International SOS is the world‚Äôs leading medical and travel security risk services company, pioneering a range of preventive programmes and delivering unrivalled emergency assistance during critical illness, accident or civil unrest.¬†www.internationalsos.com
This article is written by Philippe Guibert