Travel Security and Safety: The World is A Scary Place

Anyone who works in Corporate Security, Travel Risk or just reads a newspaper will know that we are in very interesting times, with businesses and employees becoming increasingly nervous about travelling almost anywhere, let alone to ‘high’ risks destinations.

The shocking terrorism events in Europe and the Middle East are making people very concerned and businesses are seeing resources being deployed re-actively. As I often say to colleagues in the industry the best thing to happen for a security team is a security incident (as long as you can keep your job after the event)….it’s not right but often how it seems to pan out.

I recently attended an event in London and although focused towards the Global Mobility market, part of the event was focused on security risk. At the end of the day if employees are based in country, travellers or assignees the concerns are the same and there is still the all-important ‘Duty of Care’ and more and more a ‘Duty of Loyalty‘.

Business travellers, especially ye olde road warriors, have a reputation for resilience, often being exposed to risk but taking it all in their stride. Hopping from one plane to another they don’t even bat an eye lid, but even this hard-core group are becoming concerned.

The ACTE (Association of Corporate Travel Executives) has recently published its results to a new survey (more information is here). The study polled 605 business travellers and 270 corporate travel executives over a two-month period, prior to the attacks in Belgium.

The survey showed some interesting results:

  • 67 percent of travelers said there was a psychological effect on them or their families when they went to a region where they didn’t feel safe.
  • Of that group, 16 percent said travel was psychologically taxing on them, while 77 percent said the impact was on their family and friends.
  • While 20 percent of travelers said they felt that fear started to subside after a week following a terror strike, 65 percent said it lingered for up to three months and 5 percent said they thought concerns lasted for more than a year.
  • Ten percent of business travellers remain “utterly fearless” regarding terrorism, and 25 percent have very little fear.
  • 18 percent of respondents said they were much more anxious, while 42 percent said they were a little more anxious. More than a third said there was no change in their anxiety level.
  • After the Brussels bombings in late March, 53 percent of respondents were limiting travel to or within Europe to some degree. Very few (<4%) were halting travel altogether.

These survey results echo concerns that I have experienced and I continue to hear via industry colleagues and social media. Please don’t only get hung up on just the high risks, terrorism although shocking they are still rare events, after all employees are more likely to have a traffic accident over anything else. BUT that said it’s important to manage risk. Is important because its clearly just the right thing to do but also in most countries there is a legal obligation to protect employees and to provide travel support.

“Maintain a Low Profile and be a Hard Target”

My advice is to review your policies and processes, check they are still fit for purpose. Please do talk to people in my industry and if you’re not a security professional then find one, we have various industry bodies (e.g. ASIS, The Security Institute ) that can put you in contact with someone. Feel free to drop me an email I work with this stuff day in day out and I’m always happy to offer a steer and provide advice.

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