What SMEs need to know about risk management

Travel risk management for SMEs is far more personalised than in larger organisations. This is according to Ryan Potgieter, brand lead for Flight Centre Business Travel, who says, “You’d know your traveller in an SME, you’d possibly even know his family personally. In a large organisation it’s much less personal. Large organisations need tools to help keep track of those travellers and link them with the relevant information.”

While a duty of care programme covers the corporate’s legal responsibilities which speak to employee safety, the risk management plan encompasses the manner in which travellers will be alerted, and how, in turn, they are to respond to an emergency.

Flight Centre Business Travel has identified five stages of travel risk management. These are:

  1. Identifying the risk: All risks should be identifiable to travellers. These are not only life-threatening ones, but also smaller hazards which could cause harm. Potgieter, says that the best way to identify risks to travellers within in a certain market is to understand how the travellers behave while they’re travelling. “The behaviour of travellers and their education in terms of how to react in crisis situations is paramount. It is essential that TMCs assist their corporates with concrete plans to help mitigate risks and their impact on the traveller.”
  2. Preparing the traveller: Preparation includes vaccinations and detailing health risks that are associated with the destination. Arm the traveller with solutions should they fall ill. Potgieter elaborates: “There is no one-size fits all approach as the requirements of every company, and indeed, every traveller, could be different. A proper risk assessment needs to be conducted by different divisions.”
  3. Tracking the traveller: Numerous tracking apps are available to help businesses know where their travellers are and what potential risks they are facing. Potgieter says that SMEs are more likely to have an internal process or policy as opposed to an expensive tracking system like bigger organisations might. “Small businesses can also look at phone trackers which can then link the business with the travellers family in the case of an emergency.”
  4. Communication: This should be kept open and continuous. Any alerts should be communicated promptly. “The key,” says Potgieter, “is to communicate consistently. A once-off advisory is not going to embed into the psyche of one’s travellers. It is also important that communication is two-way, so encourage your travellers to provide their insights and feedback in the process.”
  5. Response: Responding to an emergency must be prompt and calm. Assure the travellers and communicate through out. Post-emergency measures, such as trauma debriefings should also be considered. “Risk strategy and policies and procedures associated with the risk plan must be made available to all parties, from TMC to the hotel. Ensuring everyone is aligned is paramount.” 

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