The trick is in training employees to know how to leverage the right apps/services in the right way when danger strikes.

Global business travel has rebounded since the pandemic — at a more accelerated rate than expected, according to travel statistics. The rise in business travel can offer many benefits for organizations, including expanding their reach to potential markets and funding employee upskilling opportunities and other perks.

However, geopolitical tensions in Europe have led to economic and global food chain issues, while extreme weather events like the recent Pakistan floods have exacerbated the already volatile political climate. This means we are now in the era of “permacrisis” and “polycrisis”.

A permacrisis refers to a constant state of volatility; a polycrisis refers to the accumulation of compounding crises that interconnect to create a greater overall crisis. 

In view of these phenomena, could technology be a potential solution in mitigating and responding to increased risks for organizations and their business travelers, and how? 

Arnaud Vaissié, co-founder and CEO, International SOS

Managing travel risks

Developments in the business travel scene have seen the rise of technological solutions. This includes:

    • Dynamic itinerary tracking, which equips organizations with the ability to check in with their business travelers in real-time. In the event of a crisis, dynamic itinerary tracking gives organizations the ability to identify the exposure that their business travelers may face. It also allows organizations to communicate with them for support or repatriation services.
    • Apps are available for other aspects of travel risk management, such as those that send out up-to-date alerts of risks in travel locations and facilitating quick support for traveling employees who find themselves caught in a crisis.
    • Telehealth and teleconsultation services are also available to help business travelers to connect directly to highly-experienced health professionals via phone, instant messaging, and video calls where feasible. This can be particularly helpful for business travelers who may be visiting regions that lack medical experts in certain medical fields. It also allows them to communicate in a language more comfortable to them, especially in a region where they may not have a grasp of the local language. Furthermore, telehealth and teleconsultation solutions also help to reduce the costs, time and disruption of managing business travel incidents.
    • Ensuring mental well-being in business travel is also made easier with apps that provide employees with easy access to mental health support. As business travelers are constantly under pressures such as jetlag, rushed itinerary plans and objectives and other delays, such apps can assist them in working through common mental health challenges such as anxiety, feeling burnout, and insomnia.

If the tech exists, use it

In a permacrisis or polycrisis era, organizations need to take a more holistic approach to integrating technological solutions into their business travel and risk management plans. In other words, they need to consider not only the perspectives of their traveling staff, but also that of their managers. 

Also, different areas of travel may be subject to different types and levels of medical and security risks, and different solutions available in terms of quality of healthcare facilities and other emergency aid. Different traveling staff may also have their own pre-existing medical conditions, level of travel experience, and mental well-being levels. Therefore, leaders need to leverage specific types of technology to serve specific business travelers and crisis situations effectively.

Prior to their trips, traveling staff will need to be educated on the risk management protocols and taught how to fully utilize technological solutions made available to them. This can be done through pre-trip briefings, courses, and e-learning exercises.

Finally, organizations need to ensure these technological solutions are integrated through a robust business travel and risk management framework. Only then can all traveling staff be able to maximize technology to deal with any crisis with the best outcomes.