Q&A with Jared Higgins, CEO of Secure Drive

Secure Drive is a secure passenger transportation service for staff and executives that serves both South Africa and emerging markets. Travel & Meetings Buyer spoke to Secure Drive CEO, Jared Higgins to find out more.

Q: Can you say a few words about Secure Drive, what it is, and how you got involved?

A: We are fundamentally a high-end boutique protection firm, offering our services to vehicle movements only. We remove the standard and very typical mobile protective detail, and essentially offer a skilled, trained driver within the confines of a vehicle.

Q: What differentiates Secure Drive from the traditional ground transport options such as rental cars, and from the newer options such as Uber?

A: It’s important to understand that we don’t compete with or compare to traditional rental and transfer services. Our customers pay for, and value, the skillset of our trained drivers as well as the back-end support and behind-the-scenes planning from our office-based teams.

While we provide a skilled driver in-vehicle, the service also includes the support of our Global Security Operations Centre (GSOC), dedicated journey facilitators, and the continuous stream of information provided to our Secure Drivers, enabling them to adapt and change elements of the journey for the purposes of risk mitigation.

The tricky part of this service offering is that the customer only sees and experiences the vehicle they’re travelling in and the driver. However, much like insurance, you will only truly see the value in the service should you find yourself in need of the training we provide to our staff.

Q: In what markets does Secure Drive currently operate, and are there any plans to expand?

A: Secure Drive currently operates in 50 countries including the Middle East, Africa, and South America. We operate either through offices in country or through vendor partners.

We’ve recently seen an influx of business within our Nigerian market, as well as into South America and Asia. We have plans to take advantage of expansion opportunities into India – where the Arcfyre Group already operates.

Q: Does Secure Drive offer group travel, or the transportation of valuable equipment?

A: Our business focuses strictly on the safe and secure transportation of executives and individuals, and we do not offer valuable cargo transportation services. We do offer group travel for delegations, and such instances would provide a larger vehicle/bus as well as a skilled driver and/or a consultant on board to help manage the group and end-to-end journey management.

Q: What are some of the biggest risks for corporate travellers during travel by car?

A: The three biggest risks are all to do with potential motor vehicle accidents:

1.       There is increased risk of motor vehicle incidents for a traveller who is not familiar with the environment, or someone who is unfamiliar with local customs, driving conditions, areas to avoid, or the political climate. 

2.       In the event of an accident whereby a foreigner was driving a vehicle, there could be further repercussions should someone be injured in line with that regions law and road rules.

3.       Should medical attention be needed, an individual may not have the necessary information to find the appropriate level of medical care and treatment.

Secure Drive vehicles are all fitted with tracking devices that provide impact alerts in the event of an accident. This allows us to deploy the necessary pertinent resources to a location provided, using the GPS pin location of the devices, monitoring the situation through our GSOC, and we also have mobile tracking devices that a traveller can carry on-person should they be separated from the vehicle.

Q: Why is it important, from a Duty of Care perspective, for corporates to make use of a service such as Secure Drive?

Businesses booking corporate travel for executives focus on every detail in their itineraries, from flights to accommodation, dinners to entertainment. But is risk mitigation considered when transfers between events are simply listed on the itinerary as ‘transfer by taxi’ or ‘self-drive in hired car’, with executives left to their own devices to travel between arrangements, particularly in unfamiliar environments?

There is an obligation of the employer to make sure that they have done the necessary due diligence to ensure that they are providing appropriate safety measures for all employees, and that security resources have been correctly vetted and deemed suitable.

Simply plotting out an itinerary and booking hotel transfers and local taxis is no longer sufficient, especially when travelling into Africa.

As companies grow and require employees to travel more, and into riskier environments, we’re seeing that companies are experiencing push back from employees who are calling for this type security service.

Q: Does Secure Drive have any form of tracking software that companies can use to keep an eye on their travellers?

Companies can, at any point of the journey, check in on their employees and our GSOC is able to provide GPS locations and journey updates. We offer a tracking platform that is monitored by our GSOC, providing live updates on all movements. The system also sends updates if an impact alert is triggered (should the vehicle be in an accident), if the driving appears to be harsher than normal, or even if the device itself is tampered with.

We’re able to provide both wired and mobile devices anywhere, at any time within the regions that we operate and through partners.

In addition to this, we offer personnel tracking devices that can be carried by customers that can pinpoint their current location at any time. We also offer our ArcWatch app that allows the user to drop a pin using their mobile device at any point. In riskier areas we require our Secure Drivers and journey managers to regularly update their location using the ‘drop pin’ function to ensure things are running smoothly, and this communication policy is completely customisable from one client to the next.

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