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9 International Corporate Travel Risks your Employees Should be Aware of

international corporate travel

In 2020, the world saw the detrimental impacts of Covid-19, which brought changes to the world of travel and put business travelers at risk. 

While Covid-19 is one such global incident, there are more risks to business travelers than meets the eye, putting travel managers and organizations in a more difficult position to ensure their safety. 

Therefore, it is important that travel managers conduct corporate travel risk assessment and ensure their employees are aware of the various international corporate travel risks and how they can escape or tackle such situations. 

Mentioned below are some of the international corporate travel risks your employees should be aware of:

1. Health Risks

While business travel is seen as an exciting perk, employees often neglect their health and fall sick while on a business trip. They must work long hours and get accustomed to hectic schedules while traveling, which can impact their health immensely. And when their health is impacted, achieving business travel goals becomes difficult. 

Some health-related international corporate travel risks are:

Jet Lag

Jet lag is a common issue for employees traveling long distances, particularly across multiple time zones. Symptoms can include fatigue, insomnia, and disorientation. 

To minimize the impact of jet lag, you must ask your employees to adjust their sleep schedules gradually before their trip, stay hydrated while flying, and avoid caffeine and alcohol.

Food and Water-Borne Illness

Food and water-borne illnesses can pose a risk to employees traveling to countries with different food and water. Factors such as eating uncooked meat, drinking tap water, etc., can result in something known as travelers’ diarrhea

Hence, as a travel manager, you should research local health risks and inform employees only to consume healthy and nutritious food and drink water from sealed bottles. 

Insect-Borne Diseases

Sometimes, if travelers are visiting certain countries, they may be exposed to insect-borne diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, bug bites, etc.  

Therefore, it is essential to determine the destination-based health risks for business travelers and ask them to get themselves vaccinated or use insect repellants while traveling. 

Stress

Frequent traveling or traveling to an unfamiliar destination can be very stressful for employees. Stress can have a negative impact on employee health, including reduced immunity and a high risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Additionally, it will drain their mental energy to make any critical business decisions. Therefore, you must inform employees to plan ahead, stay organized and prioritize self-care. This will help them destress on a business trip. 

Lack of Physical Activity

Sitting for long periods, such as during flights or in meetings, can lead to physical inactivity and increase the risk of health issues, such as deep vein thrombosis and high blood sugar. 

Therefore, you must encourage your employees to do some stretching, walking, or even light exercises to maintain their health. 

Exposure to Germs

International corporate travel often involves employees sharing common spaces such as elevators, gyms, escalators, toilets, etc. At that time, they are exposed to various gems as they come into contact with common surfaces.

With this, infectious diseases can spread easily, threatening travel safety and security. Hence, you should always ask them to take precautions such as wearing masks in public places, sanitizing their hands regularly, carrying anti-bacterial wipes, etc., in order to maintain good hygiene. 

Moreover, you can also hand over a corporate travel risk assessment checklist to employees where they can mention any pre-existing medical conditions. 

2. Civil and Political Unrest

Civil or political unrest is one of the most unpredictable international corporate travel risks. 

In 2022,  we saw a rise in civil unrest, from the Russia-Ukraine war to Sri Lanka declaring a state of emergency because of political crises. Such situations can pose a threat to employees who travel internationally very often. 

Continuous unrest can pose several challenges to employees due to its uncertainty, such as a curfew may be implemented in a few locations, communication disruptions, operational impacts like missed meetings and deadlines, and many more. 

As a travel manager, you must always stay informed about current events about the destination employees are traveling to and be prepared to adjust the plans if necessary. You also must prepare them beforehand and let them know what to do in such scenarios. 

3. Natural Disasters

Another major international corporate travel risk employees can encounter is natural disasters. Although rare, natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, hurricanes, etc., can leave employees stranded or injure them severely. It can also contribute to widespread diseases, interrupt normal public transportation services, and many more. 

Therefore, employees should be familiar with the risks of natural disasters at their destination and local warning systems, evacuation routes, and shelters. 

US travelers visiting other countries can also seek help from the nearest US embassy

As a travel manager, you should find information on travel alerts and disaster threats from the Department of State website

Some advanced business travel management software solutions like ITILITE can help you ensure employees’ safety. With ITILITE, you can also provide them with 24/7/365 business travel support, through chats, emails, or phone calls in case any emergency arises.  This way, they can remain anxiety-free and focus on their work goals.

Book a demo now to get a first-hand experience of our advanced safety features.

4. Crime 

In today’s fast-paced global environment, employees are constantly traveling for work purposes. However, the places they travel to may be prone to high crime rates. Employees may not be accustomed to living and working in high-threat environments with low-security services and widespread criminality. 

They can be exposed to various crimes such as thefts, murders, racial discrimination, terrorism, etc., which can leave them with a negative impression of the destination and drain them emotionally. 

As a travel manager, you should warn your employees about crime-related international corporate travel risks. You can start by instructing them to be aware of their surroundings (situational awareness), take precautions to protect their personal belongings, carry useful business travel products, follow local laws and customs, respect local traditions, and dress appropriately. 

This way, they won’t draw any unwanted attention. You can also provide them with emergency hotlines, contacts, and locations in case of any criminal incident, which will help ensure employee safety. 

5. Cultural Differences

When employees go on international business trips, there is a shift in the culture that employees may not be used to. It could be the little things, such as when dinner is served or what is eaten for breakfast. It could also be the big things like how women are treated or how seriously religion is taken. Additionally, certain gestures or phrases may be considered offensive in a few countries. 

In such cases, they may face several international corporate travel risks due to cultural differences, such as:

Miscommunication

Differences in language and nonverbal communication can lead to misunderstandings and misinterpretations. For example, a gesture considered rude or offensive in one culture may be perfectly acceptable in another.

Offending Cultural Norms

Business travelers may inadvertently offend cultural norms, which can negatively impact business relationships. For instance, in the U.S., tipping at restaurants is considered etiquette. However, tipping in Japan and South Korea is considered an insult and can lead to arguments. 

Lack of Awareness of Local Laws and Regulations

Business travelers may not be aware of local laws and regulations, which can land them in legal trouble. For example, alcohol may be allowed in one country and not in another. If employees consume or use alcohol, they can end up facing severe consequences. 

Therefore, as a travel manager, you must educate your employees on these business travel etiquette before they embark on their business trips. 

Do a little research on the country employees are traveling to, how people greet each other, what are the local customs and traditions, etc. If employees are unaware of these, they may be at risk of being caught off guard, which can stress them out and offend the locals.

6. Data Security Risks 

It is without a doubt that business travelers are exposed to a wide range of data security risks, such as cybercrimes and data breaches. Factors such as using free public wi-fi, leaving laptops and other devices unattended, charging electronic gadgets in a public place, etc., can pose an enormous danger to the privacy of employees and business travel data. 

Hackers can easily access information such as name, bank account, credit card details, email address, important business documents, telephone numbers, and identity. 

International corporate travel risks such as data security can be easily avoided by asking employees to follow certain practices. Some of them include

  • Using a portable hotspot for a secure internet connection. 
  • Disabling auto-connect to public wi-fi from phones and laptops. 
  • Locking and password-protecting all devices. 
  • Backing up all the data. 
  • Staying vigilant and aware of your surroundings.
  • Investing in good anti-virus software. 

Apart from these, using secure software solutions with advanced encryption protocols ensures data security. 

For instance, travel managers can ask employees to use advanced travel and expense management software with advanced security features, which protects the employees’ data under multiple layers of security. 

Try T&E Management Software for Free

7. Financial Risks 

Financial risks are one of the major international corporate travel risks for business travelers. The most common financial risks for employees during business travel are:

Fraud and Scams

Fraud and scams can happen to employees traveling to unfamiliar countries. You should inform employees about these scams and ask them to stay cautious when exchanging currency, using ATMs, or making purchases with their credit cards. Other frauds and scams that can happen to business travelers are:

Fake invoices and bills: Employees can receive fake bills or invoices for services they did not opt for. This can include charges for hotel rooms, transportation, and other expenses. Therefore, you must ask employees to be very careful and verify the legitimacy of the charges before paying.

Impersonation scams: Fraudsters may impersonate government officials or law enforcement officers to extort money or personal information from business travelers. Travelers should also be wary of unsolicited calls or emails and verify the identity of anyone contacting them before providing any information.

Phishing scams: These are scams in which fraudsters send emails, texts, or social media messages that appear to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank or company, in order to trick people into providing personal or financial information. You must inform your employees to be extremely careful with such kinds of messages and emails.  

8. Female Employee Safety

A major international corporate travel risk is female employee safety. With the increase in business travel, female employees going on business trips are also on the rise. However, female business travelers are prone to more safety threats than their male counterparts. 

Hence, as a travel manager, you must advise and prepare female business travelers about these potential international corporate travel risks. Some of the steps you can implement to ensure their safety are: 

  • Do extensive research about the places your female employees are traveling to. 
  • Develop a comprehensive travel policy with a section, especially for female employees. 
  • Provide corporate travel safety training.
  • Ask them to carry safety products such as pepper spray, safelet, and sound grenade e-alarm.
  • Advise them not to upload any details about their stay or transport on social media. 
  • Offer travel insurance and emergency contact numbers. 
  • Arrange for safe transportation services.
  • Inform them to dress appropriately and book female-friendly accommodations.
  • Provide female employees with a traveler safety checklist. 

9. Environmental Risks

Environmental risks/hazards are one of the international corporate travel risks which you cannot ignore. Travelers may often experience abrupt and dramatic environmental changes while traveling, which can impact their health, safety, and overall travel experience. Some environmental risks include:

Air Pollution

Air pollution is a common environmental risk faced by business travelers, particularly in cities with high traffic and industrial activity levels. It can impact health by causing respiratory problems, headaches, and eye irritation.

Water Pollution

Water pollution is another environmental risk faced by business travelers, particularly in developing countries where water treatment systems may be inadequate. Contaminated water can cause illness, such as diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. 

Business travelers can face weather-related risks, such as harsh heat, heavy rains, hurricanes, or severe storms, which can impact travel plans and threaten their safety. 

As travel managers, you must ensure to check the weather conditions of the destination employees are traveling to. You can do this by watching the news or looking up the government website for live weather updates. 

For instance, if your employees need to travel to the UK, you can look up Air Quality in United Kingdom, which will give you a real-time update on air quality. 

Safeguard your Employees Against International Corporate Travel Risks

As a travel manager, you must safeguard your employees from the abovementioned risks. With advanced planning and preparation, you can prevent them from facing any untoward travel uncertainties. 

To start the employee safety preparations the right way, onboard an advanced corporate travel management software solution like ITILITE. The ITILITE software allows you to track travelers in real-time, block unsafe hotels, provide 24/7/365 business travel support, and more. Such features help keep your employees anxiety-free on business trips. 

Get a free demo of ITILITE to know more about our safety features. 

Discover a simpler way to manage corporate travel

Corporate travel management can be extremely daunting. Getting travelers to stick to budgets while booking travel, monitoring spends or finding support for travelers – there is always something that needs to be done. That’s why we built a solution that makes corporate travel management simpler.

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