Travel Analysts Norm Rose, Chris Pang, and Jay Campbell Address Duty of Care
Your employees are your most valuable asset. Protecting them in the field has to be priority #1.
The sharing economy has introduced new challenges here, as real-time ride-hailing apps, home-sharing, and other peer-to-peer services have broadened travel options, but additional choice has created risks.
Companies are scrutinizing their corporate travel management processes, searching for ways to provide convenient options for travelers while delivering on duty of care obligations.
“Every company needs to balance the legal requirement to keep their employees safe with the reality of an increasingly fragmented booking process,” says Norm Rose, President of Travel Tech Consulting and Senior Technology Analyst with PhoCusWright.
What can you do to protect travelers while providing convenient transportation options? We asked Rose and other industry analysts. Here are four of their recommendations.
Leverage a travel management company to book corporate travel
“It’s best to have a managed travel program that puts as much travel as you can through a designated travel management company,” says Chris Pang, a Research Director at Gartner UK. “When you do, you can have a holistic view of who is traveling where and when. The TMC can approve car service along with flight, hotel accommodation, and other travel options.”
Pang notes that, while this is ideal, most companies have an unmanaged policy. “For these companies,” he says, “it’s critical they have tools to communicate with travelers at all times. They should aggregate data from travel plans from the point of origin.”
Educate employees about travel policy and duty of care issues
Jay Campbell, cofounder of The Company Dime, notes that protecting travelers starts with monitoring trends and finding information that can help employees facilitate safer travel. “Travel managers need education about regulations, tools, threats, and best practices,” he says.
Pang agrees that sharing information is critical, noting it must reach travelers and employees responsible for monitoring them: “Companies can help by sharing information internally. Everyone should be aware of the travel policy. Let employees know what services are acceptable to use and those that are not. Back in the office, it should be known where employees are and the potential risks of locations.”
Emphasize the role of travelers and hold employees accountable
“Every employee needs to understand that when traveling on business they are obligated to work with their company to let them know their location during business hours,” says Rose. “This needs to be an HR policy and condition of employment.”
“The sharing economy,” Rose continues, “is not going away, and even the strictest corporate policies may have trouble enforcing rules that prevent every employee from using a service like Uber.”
“Employees need to understand the risks and liabilities of using the sharing economy and should be compelled to sign a document acknowledging this risk,” Rose emphasizes.
Offer diverse travel options – and update them periodically
“A lot of leakage happens when employees don’t want to utilize the travel options the companies want them to use,” says Pang.
“One reason for this is that travel options may have been selected five years ago and may not have been updated since,” he continues. “Organizations are sending travelers on the same airlines, to the same hotels, to the same car service companies, even though circumstances may have changed on the ground.”
“It’s critical that companies keep a fresh and relevant policy with a range of travel options,” Pang asserts. He recommends travel managers involve employees to maintain a flexible and updateable policy, seeking traveler feedback.
“If employees provide bad feedback about a particular travel option, changes should be considered,” Pang recommends. “Don’t toss out your policy: retain control over travel options while taking employee feedback that can result in changes.”
Pang sums up: “It’s hard to get to duty of care completely, but the right mix of technology and policy can help to eliminate risks for travelers.”