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 ensure their employees going on business 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:
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 risks associated with international corporate travel are:
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 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.
Sometimes, if travelers are traveling to certain countries such as Africa, South America, India, etc., they may be exposed to insect-borne diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, bug bites, etc.
Therefore, it is essential to determine the health risks in destinations employees travel to and ask them to get themselves vaccinated or use insect repellants while traveling.
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.
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.
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. 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 travel risk assessment checklist to employees where they can mention any pre-existing medical conditions.
Business travel does not always go as expected. Employees can get stuck in their destinations due to civil or political unrest.
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.
Another major 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.
You can also provide 24/7/365 business travel support to employees, who can contact you via chats, emails, or phone calls in case any emergency arises. This also helps you with your business travel management process.
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 instruct employees 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.
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.
Business travelers face several risks due to cultural differences, such as:
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.
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.
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.
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 risks such as data security can be easily avoided by asking employees to follow certain practices. Some of them include
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.
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 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.
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:
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 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 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.
Although business travel is an enriching and different experience for employees, they can encounter several international corporate travel risks. These risks may include health risks, environmental risks, financial risks, and many more. As a travel manager, you must safeguard your employees from these risks. With advanced planning and preparation, you can prevent employees from facing any untoward travel risks when they travel.
Additionally, you can implement these steps with ITILITE’s travel management software. The software allows you to track travelers in real-time, block unsafe hotels, provide 24/7/365 business travel support, ensure private data security, and many more. Such features help keep your employees safe during such emergencies.
Get a free demo of ITILITE to know more about our safety features.
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