© EBR Media Ltd, 2021. The definitive, and edited version of this article is published in The European Business Review www.europeanbusinessreview.com
Duty of care is now at the forefront of many businesses, particularly when planning and managing business travel. The pandemic has brought into sharp focus the legal obligation to research, plan, and implement a strategy to mitigate the risks involved for employees travelling for work. Our own experience during this challenging time has shown that there’s now more focus than ever on safety requirements and potential risks before, during and after travel.
Businesses increase duty of care focus
As a global travel risk intelligence company, we’ve seen first-hand the changing approach to business travel risk. Over the past year, since the pandemic began, we’ve seen a surge in enquiries – including a 30% increase in website enquiries. This rush of new customer enquiries has increased our client base by 146% since early 2019, particularly since the start of 2020, and 81% of existing clients have expanded their contracts with us in that time.
We’ve had conversations with business across many sectors including the insurance, aviation, travel tech, life sciences, higher education, assistance and security, and of course the travel management sector – all requiring access to the latest travel risk intelligence. This includes global travel technology company Amadeus.
Monika Wiederhold, Global Program Lead Safe Travel Ecosystem, and EVP Airlines Central and Eastern Europe at Amadeus, explains: “We have deepened our partnership with Riskline to bring critical information about COVID-19 travel regulations into our agency and corporate booking tools, thereby allowing our travel seller, corporate customers and their travellers to have access to the latest updates both while planning and during a trip. We will also be bringing this information into further touchpoints, such as for our airline customers as part of our work with partners, customers, and industry bodies to deliver the technology and collaboration needed to help restart travel on a global scale.”
What’s clear is that, regardless of the business sector, all employers have an important duty of care responsibility around employee safety when travelling on business.
Keeping up with changing Covid regulations
As a result of the pandemic there has never been a greater need for immediate access to reliable, 24/7 risk intelligence. Our team has tracked the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19 pandemic since day one and has responded accordingly with the launch of new products, such as our Covid-19 microsite, to help keep businesses informed.
Keeping up to date with the latest restrictions, regulations, and travel requirements can be challenging, with countries around the world delivering various levels of response. Despite a global pandemic with the same virus and the same science and research available to all, each country has made different decisions about to address the situation with regulations even changing from one region to another within a country.
Demand for ‘human-curated content’ fuels team expansion
Here’s where ‘human-curated content’ comes in – that’s our term for information that’s verified by people. There’s no substitute for human involvement to evaluate and check data and experts based on the ground are best placed to do this. Their role is crucial in tackling the ‘infodemic’ that’s accompanied the pandemic – a virus of misinformation that often overwhelms sound public health messaging to infect whole populations.
We’ve invested substantially in this side of our business, expanding our global team of on the ground analysts by 50%. This is the most amount of new appointments we’ve ever created in a single year and our team now spans over 15 countries and 11 different time zones – all dedicated to sourcing and verifying real time information that has a direct impact on business travel.
Duty of care post-pandemic
What next? As the world slowly begins to open up, bringing with it the gradual return of business travel, duty of care will continue to be at the forefront. Even as the risks of Covid subside, other risks will emerge. As we get to grips with whatever might be our ‘new normal’, we’re sure to see the return of widespread unrest driven by pre-Covid problems – inequality, globalised capital and climate change – all now supercharged in a post-pandemic environment. These will bring with them safety implications for employees travelling on business.
My hope is that employers having fine-tuned their focus on duty of care during the pandemic will now have the tools they need to respond accordingly.