Adrian Leach, CEO of World Travel Protection, believes that some business cannot be conducted online, and indicates that organisations can easily navigate the complexities of international travel now with adequate risk management support
Travel never went away completely, even during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For companies that have continued to travel, getting back to “normal” has been easy. But for those that had a travel hiatus, it has been more challenging.
While we continue to talk about the risk of travelling, we also need to have a conversation around the risk of not travelling.
Business travel should never be undertaken without a business case, a justification, a return on investment. It might be winning new business, the maintenance of a current contract or something less tangible.
When working across multiple timezones, the cumulative time we have to achieve meaningful outputs is severely impacted. There is a lot to be said about being in the same room to communicate intent and seek agreement.
For leaders in a business, being able to sit down with peers, direct reports and the wider workforce helps reduce confusion and ensures everyone is singing from the same song sheet. Being in the same room breaks down barriers, improves cultural awareness and creates shared experiences, which benefits both the individuals and the company.
Throughout the pandemic, we have seen companies develop alternatives to having their people travel. Where a company could not audit their aviation provider, it engaged a third party to do so. When a company could not inspect a piece of equipment being manufactured in China, it developed compliance measures for the manufacturer.
Instead of securing new business in person, teams were faced with the challenge of building rapport and trust over video conferences.
Developing a third-party relationship or a change in process is borne out of necessity, but it comes with its own set of risks. In some countries, it is simple to engage a trusted service provider to carry out functions to a globally recognised standard, but this is not always the case.
There was a reason World Travel Protection continued to send its audit and compliance teams all over the world before the pandemic and that requirement hasn’t changed. While it may be difficult to claw back the severely reduced travel budgets, the benefits of business travel are immeasurable.
Business in person doesn’t go unnoticed
We are starting to see industry events move out of the virtual space and back to something resembling real life. During a recent work trip to Guyana, where we provided support to a client, we also had the opportunity to address attendees at an international energy conference.
World Travel Protection was the only travel risk management company in attendance and our willingness to travel and participate was well received by the other attendees.
For organisations ready to travel, it can be difficult to find employees willing to put their hands up. Your mobile workforce has become used to working from home, but there are also many employees who have their passports ready.
The risks of travelling to countries have changed and we need to prepare our travellers before they go. If we identify and mitigate the risk, identify and clarify the opportunity, we will get people back out there supporting and driving businesses forward.
When considering the risks associated with travel, companies should consider the risks associated with the individual, the destination and the activity being conducted. This is where World Travel Protection can help organisations identify and manage their risks and give them clear and concise plans to respond if something goes wrong.
The risk of not travelling now can have a material impact on your business. And it’s something that can be avoided with some simple risk management support.
Adrian Leach joined World Travel Protection (WTP) as CEO in 2019. With a background in operations and senior management roles, he previously worked with International SOS and Linfox Australia.