The Risky Business of Travel

By Ann Longmore-Etheridge

Small Companies

Some companies looking for international business to grow are too small to have the resources for outside travel security vendors and consultants—or even to have dedicated security personnel. But if the business does have international travelers, then someone on the staff should be in charge of maintaining an information Web page with links to the U.S. State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council site and its plethora of reports, incident listings, and advisories on conditions in nations around the globe, as well as RSS news feeds on countries being traveled to and emergency contact numbers for the company, the embassies, and the local police (if that group is trusted), suggests Nicastro. “But they also have to ensure that that employee is taking the time to review that info,” he says. And, of course, they should make sure that employees provide their itineraries and have emergency contingency plans for contact if something happens.

Gruber says that employees must certainly be looked after by the organization, but they must also look after themselves. Many fail to do even a minimum of due diligence, he says. He recommends that travelers go to Google Earth to explore the routes they will travel and to identify police stations and the U.S. embassy or consulate offices. Additionally, they should create and carry a hardcopy emergency contact list because it is possible that their cell phones will have limited or no reception at their overseas location. They should also conduct their own open-source research on crimes and scams occurring in the vicinity, he says.

There is an old Moorish proverb that says, “He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” It is certainly true today that those who do not travel cannot reap the potential value of emerging markets. But the company must also take care to have strong travel security policies and procedures lest the dreamt of profits turn into a nightmare of unintended consequences.



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