When taxi strikes hit Cape Town, travellers in the city were left stranded and without means to get to or from the airport. It was a jarring reminder that emergencies can happen close to home, too.
According to a recent survey by software company Everbridge, only 24% of companies surveyed have a “Plan B” in place for travel risk management for situations like this.
Corporate Traveller GM, Bonnie Smith, said that in corporate travel circles, the term ‘duty of care’ often evokes images of international flights and exotic locations, however, what about the daily commuter or the employee flying from Cape Town to Johannesburg for work?
She said a contingency plan for domestic business travellers isn’t a luxury; it’s an absolute requirement.
“The responsibility for the well-being of employees doesn’t end at city limits or country borders. Domestic travel equally deserves meticulous planning and risk mitigation,” said Smith.
Risks beyond the taxi stand
According to Smith, the August taxi strikes put a spotlight on the challenges and risks associated with ground transportation. But this isn’t a once-off challenge.
“Corporate travellers using ride-hailing services also face hazards. Recent reports by the South African Police Service have documented a surge in late-night attacks on passengers by drivers. If your corporate travel policy is leaning heavily on ride-hailing services, it’s time to re-evaluate,” advised Smith.
She also recommended diversifying your transport options through arrangements like pre-scheduled shuttles, partnerships with reliable taxi companies, and car rentals.
Crafting policies for every traveller
Smith said that a generic, one-size-fits-all approach to corporate travel can also expose companies to a host of unanticipated risks and travel policies created with the ‘average’ traveller in mind may overlook the unique needs of women or LGBTQIA+ employees, for example.
The GM of Corporate Traveller said to address this, a comprehensive duty-of-care strategy should be tailored to cater to each employee’s specific requirements.
“For example, it is crucial to vet accommodation options to ensure that they offer robust security and are also LGBTQ+ friendly,” she said.
Smith said that while smaller guest-houses may promise a more personalised experience, they can fall short in crucial areas such as security protocols and backup power systems.
“Small doesn’t have to mean risky. By collaborating with a trustworthy Travel Management Company (TMC), businesses can evaluate potential risks and receive guidance in selecting secure accommodation options,” she added.
Pre-travel risk assessments
Smith also advised that businesses conduct pre-travel risk assessments.
“Don’t just inform — educate your employees on specific risks related to the area they are travelling to,” she said.
Travel policies and guidelines
“Your travel policies should be explicit, offering clear, actionable steps for handling everything from medical crises to security threats. This is your company’s playbook; ensure everyone knows it inside out,” said Smith.
Real-time monitoring and communication
Smith also advised that companies utilise travel management software that allows for real-time monitoring of employees locations.
“Couple this with a 24/7 hotline to ensure that help is always just a phone call away - a service offered by Corporate Traveller,” added Smith.
Emergency response plans
She also said that your company must have a robust emergency response plan in place and to train your employees on how to execute it.
Insurance and healthcare
When it comes to safety, Smith also highlighted the importance of comprehensive insurance plans.
“Prepare a verified list of local healthcare providers and ensure employees know where to go in a medical emergency,” she said.
Vehicle and accommodation safety
Smith also advised that you mandate the use of vetted transportation and accommodation options.
Regular updates and feedback
And finally, when it comes to improving the safety of business travellers, Smith said to keep your team informed of any changes to risk levels where they are and always seek their feedback post-trip for continuous improvement.
“Upholding duty of care is not just best practice, but a hallmark of a leading organisation. It protects your team and boosts your company’s reputation as an employer that highly values and cares for its people,” said Smith.