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Safety not priority for biz travellers

Nine out of ten overseas business travellers leave the UK unprepared, unbriefed and unaware how to act in an emergency. This alarming statistic has been revealed by Planet Wise, provider of travel safety training courses and exhibitor at this month’s Business Travel Show in London.

“UK industry sends employees on more than eight million overseas business trips each year, yet 90 per cent of those companies do little to prepare them for travel abroad: 25 per cent of all UK travellers, for example, are inadequately insured, despite figures proving that half will fall sick while they are abroad,” explained Mark Hide, Director of Planet Wise.

“Many organisations think their responsibility stops at buying airline tickets and booking a hotel room when, in fact, all employers have a duty to care for their staff when they are away on business. Companies need to start thinking about supplying travellers with information such as destination risk assessment and advice on culture, first aid and food hygiene, as well as organising inoculations and insurance, and even preparing a hostage and kidnap policy for travellers to riskier destinations and procedures for head office to follow in the case of any such emergency.” 

David Chapple, Event Director of the Business Travel Show, adds: “It’s true that many organisations still do not have a business travel management strategy in place: having an internally-accepted business travel policy and appointing an individual or team responsible to implement that policy, will make the whole process more effective and efficient, and business travellers would be considerably better looked after.

“Feedback has shown that employees perform better while abroad if they have been adequately briefed, understand the risks - both minor and major - and feel culturally aware when conducting business. Instead, many travellers are still naïve and vulnerable to risk.” 


In light of these revelations, the Business Travel Show has teamed up with Planet Wise to create a concise business travel guide to help travellers kick start safer travelling for the future:

1. Check your inoculations are up to date. 

2. Be insured for the places you are going to and the activities you will be doing. If you are planning to drive, or stay on for a leisure break, make sure your insurance covers this.

3. If you are visiting a hostile environment consider a specialist insurance policy for kidnap and ransom.

4. Spread data away from the laptop - take a memory stick with key info or keep it on the company intranet.

5. Ensure someone knows where you are every day - have a checking in procedure with the office. 

6. Don’t travel in a suit if it’s not necessary - you’ll be a target for thieves.

7. Carry a laptop in a non-laptop bag (for example, a rucksack) as you will be less of a target.

8. Spend a few moments at the hotel working out exit routes if there was a fire or blackout.

9. Learn about the culture - women travellers, especially, should be aware of cultural differences in the destination country and how to behave. For example, some faiths do not expect men to shake a woman’s hand when meeting.