Overwhelming majority of companies keep travellers safe through travel risk management protocols

Mobile technology helping companies communicate with and track employees

The GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), today unveiled a study finding an overwhelming majority of organizations – 83 per cent — report their travel programs have risk management protocols in place in order to ensure the safety and well-being of their business travellers. It’s clear that travel risk management (TRM) protocols use is on the rise – of the organizations that said they did not have TRM protocols in place, 60 per cent said they were planning to adopt within the next two years.

The study, Keeping Travellers Safe Through Travel Risk Management (TRM), sponsored by Concur Technologies, surveyed more than 250 travel managers, security officers and human resource personnel to gain a better understanding of how many organizations have travel risk management protocols in place as well as the features these programs include. Through TRM protocols, businesses seek to keep business travellers safe in addition to minimizing the effects of potential travel mishaps.

Overwhelming majority of companies keep travellers safe through travel risk management protocols “The high adoption rate of TRM protocols demonstrates that businesses are committed to keeping their road warriors out of harm’s way,” said Joseph Bates, GBTA Foundation Vice President of Research. “We’re also excited to see that technological advances, such as apps and text messaging, are changing the face of TRM programs by enabling organizations to better track and communicate with their employees. Travellers can focus on doing business, rather than worrying about potential risks.”

Although TRM protocols typically include several features for both domestic and international travel, the study found that large organizations are more likely than small organizations to offer pre-travel information, automated communication about real-time risks and local providers for medical and security services as part of their TRM protocol. Typical features of TRM protocols include:

  1. Traveller tracking,
  2. pre-travel info and preparation,
  3. TMC engagement in support of risk protocols,
  4. pre-travel approval,
  5. automated communication about real time risks,
  6. local providers for medical and security assistance,
  7. locally available assistance services and
  8. travel concierge.

“Travel risk management is important to our customers because it helps them fulfill their duty of care obligations,” said Johnny Thorsen, Senior Director, Strategy and Product Marketing, Concur. “We’re committed to providing the tools necessary to help companies of all sizes protect their workforce.”

During an emergency, organizations that have TRM protocols in place can generally locate all impacted employees and verify their safety much faster than companies without protocols in place.

  • One-third of respondents said they could locate all impacted employees in real-time; 20 per cent said they could located travellers in 15-30 minutes; and 31 per cent said it would take longer than a half an hour to locate all their impacted employees. However, 20 per cent said they did not know how long it would take to track their employees down.
  • The study found it takes an estimated median of 1.5 hours to confirm every employee’s safety when an incident occurs: 28 per cent reported it would take less than one hour, 43 per cent said it would take one or more hours and 24 per cent said it would take two or more hours. One third of the respondents (29%) said they did not know how long it would take to confirm everyone’s safety.

Technology adoption

Greater adoption of mobile tracking and messaging technologies may enable companies to locate employees and confirm their safety more quickly. With nearly 90 per cent of business travellers carrying a smart phone, wireless technology is quickly becoming an important method for communicating with travellers. According to the study, there is ample opportunity for improvement in technology use, including increased mobile app implementation.

  • While there is room for improvement in the area of apps, SMS is prioritized higher than mobile apps when it comes to communicating with travellers during an emergency or disruption. Half of respondents ranked automated SMS among their top three most important channels and 39 per cent ranked manual SMS in their top three. Thirty-six per cent of respondents included mobile apps on their top three list.
  • Organizations rely on multiple data sources when communicating with travellers, with the most common including a TMC system (60 per cent), third-party traveller tracking system (41 per cent), and mass notification system (35 per cent).
  • Companies use data captured through online booking tools (OBT) or TMCs to approve travel, provide pre-trip information to travellers, track travellers and communicate about risks. Because non-OBT bookings can create challenges for TRM programs, 67 per cent of organizations do not allow non-OBT booking. That said, non-OBT bookings are still fairly common.
  • Although there are technologies available to mitigate the challenges involved in non-OBT bookings, the adoption rates of these technologies must increase in order for those challenges to become less of an issue for TRM.


The current study is based on an online survey of 257 respondents, of which 85 per cent were travel managers and 15 per cent were security, HR or other personnel involved with travel risk management in North America. Most respondents were from the United States (82 per cent), while 10 per cent were from Canada and 8 per cent from Mexico.

The study, Keeping Travellers Safe Through Travel Risk Management (TRM), is available exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here and non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailing [email protected]. Click here to view an abstract of this research.

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