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Matthew Judge is group managing director of risk management
company The Anvil Group
Factoring Travel Risk into
BY MATTHEW JUDGE
but there is a
way for them to
Now that duty of care is high on the corporate
agenda, trip-approval systems need to factor it
in. Focusing purely on the budget aspects of corporate travel could put business travelers and, in
turn, their organizations at serious risk.
Plus, a risk-based trip-approval system can do
far more than just accept or reject trips. It can:
• Capture trips to high-risk zones and alert the
necessary stakeholders, who then can direct a
trip to be canceled or rescheduled; approve the
trip but only with additional support, security
and training; or take some other course of action
• Ensure the correct workflow of approval by the
• Act as an audit trail, allowing corporates to
demonstrate their fulfilment of duty of care
Budgets that are set at the beginning of the year
can be tied into travel policy guidelines, and simi-
larly, companies can define risk policies in order
to give corporate travelers and travel managers
guidance. However, the risk landscape can change
on a daily or even hourly basis. You can’t set risk
levels for every global region and expect them to
remain static for a whole 12 months.
Even countries deemed low risk can fall prey to
dynamic threats like attacks and natural catastrophes with scant notice. Within any country, region
or area, risks may also vary considerably.
Under duty of care and health and safety legislation, it can be illegal to put the onus on the individual business traveler to take a view on the complex
global risk landscape armed only with the company
travel policy and a list of approved safe areas. Organizations have a duty not just to set clear policies for employees and others who are traveling on
company business under their care but to do due
diligence to mitigate risk prior to travel.
But Trip Approvals Are Such an Admin Burden
In order for a trip-approval system that factors in
risk management to work, it must be as easy as
possible for both the traveler and the travel approver, with high levels of automation.
The ideal solution automatically will cross-match trip details against dynamic risk data from
a reliable risk management platform. A trip to
a higher-risk area would trigger an alert to the
Managers then could approve, reject or request
changes based on organizational policies and other mitigating factors. For approved trips, the company could brief the traveler on additional precautions or order pre-trip training. Trips booked to
lower-risk areas would pass through the approval
system automatically, freeing approvers’ time to
focus on the higher-risk exceptions.
Pre- or Post-Booking Trip Approval?
Some companies require trip approvals to occur pre-booking in order to avoid potential
cancellation fees. However, pre-booking travel
authorization can be painful for the traveler
and laborious for travel and security managers,
adding administration and potential delays, all
of which have their own cost implications.
The post-booking approach, though, doesn’t
hold up the process, but the downside is that a
booked trip must be canceled if it is not approved.
In reality, though, the number of trips needing to
be canceled or amended is extremely low.
The post-booking method also allows for far
greater automation. By connecting directly with
global distribution systems, a post-booking trip-approval tool can pick up a traveler’s trip data
without any additional data entry by the traveler.
It also ensures that the approval is based on actual booking data, providing far greater accuracy
and far less likelihood that details will change.
Ultimately, the pre- versus post-booking authorization decision will depend on the type
and size of the individual organization. Based
on internal studies with Anvil clients, the post-booking method does appear to be more effective for larger organizations.
Regardless, one thing is clear: While budget
control will certainly continue to be critical for
business travel, the security of people is a fundamental component of operational resilience, and
risk assessment and mitigation must be key elements in any travel-authorization process.