Corporate Travel Managers get tested on a regular basis with “unexpected events” which happen to one of their travelers and they have to come to their rescue. It’s part of the job. The care and safety of your travelers is no joke and it pays to be ready when one of these crisis events takes place.
If we ranked them on a direness scale, they rate from “hair on fire” to “pants on fire” to “the whole room is on fire.” So in that order, let’s consider the possibilities…
- Your traveler can’t find his or her driver’s license. This happened to a relative who got to the airport with several meetings scheduled in the next two days and no idea where his driver’s license had gone. Luckily, this is not all that rare, and at National Airport in DC there were actually two other travelers in line at the TSA checkpoint trying to fix the very same problem! The TSA officer may ask you to complete an identity verification process which includes collecting information such as your name, current address, and other personal information to confirm your identity. If your identity is confirmed, you will be allowed to enter the screening checkpoint. You will be subject to additional screening, to include a pat down and screening of carry-on property. You will not be allowed to enter the security checkpoint if your identity cannot be confirmed, you choose to not provide proper identification or you decline to cooperate with the identity verification process. Obviously, the traveler will go through the same gauntlet on their return flight, and renting a car at their destination will not be possible. Note: The TSA has about a dozen approved identification items (passport, DHS trusted traveler cards, etc) in addition to State-issued Driver’s Licenses, which as of May 3, 2023 must be RealID compliant.
- Your traveler has lost his or her wallet or purse. A step up the direness scale, your traveler has no identification and no money. Getting them money is the first step. You can wire them funds, but without ID that is problematic. Their hotel may have options available, such as receiving funds and converting them to cash. This becomes more doable if they had checked in before losing their id. A third option is a virtual credit card which can be issued by your TMC for a set amount of funds. The goal is getting them into cash ASAP as that’s the form of payment that doesn’t require ID. And on the subject of ID, when traveling abroad, employees should protect their passport like it was gold. They should keep it in the hotel safe on days they won’t need it, and on days they do (border crossing days) we suggest an anti-theft accessory like a hidden-bra wallet, a money belt or travel underwear (shorts or tank top) with secret pockets for a passport. A stowed passport could be a lifesaver when your wallet has disappeared.
- Your traveler has a health emergency during a trip. On occasions like this if your company has a contract with a health & security company like International SOS you’ll have an easier time to be sure. ISOS has clinics and doctors in over 85 countries so getting your traveler treatment is simplified. Without that association there is still hope. Start by checking the International Society of Travel Medicine‘s website; where there is a Global Travel Clinic Directorylisting clinics in each country including the languages their doctors speak. The nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate is also a good resource in an emergency and can aid you if there are issues. Considering how many personal insurance policies don’t work overseas, and the fact that Medicare is useless over there a short term travel insurance policy is a great investment for those travelers who discover how risky traveling abroad can be, coverage-wise.
- Your traveler is kidnapped or disappears during a business trip. Now we’re into the “room is on fire” level of direness. Once it becomes apparent that something is really wrong you are at the mercy of the experts. Appeals to the US Embassy are probably less effective than bringing in a security company, like Crisis24, Academi, KBR or the Seneca Group. (To view a guide to the 30 largest security companies, click here.) If your firm handles sensitive business (intelligence, defense, or government industries) or you have travelers going to countries where the politics is unstable, or if you have high net worth individuals traveling you probably already have a relationship with one of these companies. Which is good because that means the experts can hit the ground running when this type emergency strikes.
- Your traveler is caught in a natural disaster or a societal collapse. The Big One. Your success in riding out an emergency of this magnitude is predicated upon the level of preparedness you and your firm’s management team invests in this process before it takes place. You should consider preparing the following:
- Ready Response Contact Lists with the information necessary to contact all pertinent entities in the event of an emergency situation. While some information contained in these lists may be of a sensitive nature, it is important that these lists be available to all members of your Crisis Management Team (CMT). The lists should not only exist in an electronic format, but also be available in a hard copy, should the loss of power or network services be present. This list should include all members of the Client’s CMT. It may include such departments as Risk Assessment, Security, Executive Office, Human Resources, IT, etc. You should have standard information, as well as back up numbers for each of these contacts as defined above.
- Employee Contacts. During times of emergency, a consolidated database of employee information is vital. This allows all CMT members to access the necessary information and to assist in the location of affected employees. The Travel Manager should work closely with the HR Department to create a comprehensive database that can be shared by both Travel and HR.
- Medical Information Database containing employee’s blood type, allergies, health history, prescriptions, and physicians name. To facilitate communication emergency contact numbers should be included on this form as well.
Work with your firm’s Risk Management Department to pull this intelligence together. When the time comes that you face a true emergency, you will be thankful you took the time to organize a response.