Wouldn’t it be great if there was an internationally recognized standard for corporate travel risk management? Of course it would.
As Executive Protection professionals we are constantly caught between a rock and a hard place. We do our best to provide our clients with the best possible protection while dealing with resistance and objections from the boardroom, PAs or the client themselves. Now if there was an international guideline for a travel risk management standard that addressed everything from hotels to air travel and ground transportation, it would require compliance from organizations and simplify our task significantly. The good news is, there now is and it is planned for launch in the summer of 2021.
Enter the new global risk benchmarking standard, ISO 31030 Risk Management — Managing Travel Risks. It has been developed by the International Organization for Standardization, a worldwide federation of 82 national standards bodies. However, 163 countries have participated in creating ISO 31030, which asks travel managers and organizers to consider all aspects of travel in discharging their duty of care including airlines, accommodation providers and ground transportation firms.
After extensive research and consultation with a vast array of SMEs, ISO have completed these guidelines that will set a new global travel risk benchmarking standard against which organisations can measure their travel risk management.
Let’s discuss 4 advantages that we can expect from this welcome progress in travel risk management and our ability to demonstrate duty of care to our clients.
EMPOWERS TRAVEL MANAGERS
Finding the balance between budget, safety and comfort is a challenge for travel managers. Depending on the level of the executive, a balance must be found between these three forces and most often it is safety that suffers. As we all know, security can be costly. VIP services at airports cost money. Using the hotel shuttle between the airport and the hotel is much cheaper than dedicated secure transportation. And when going out to dinner, why pay for a driver to wait for you when you can just grab a taxi back.
Then there is the question of hotel selection. Do travel managers have tools to assess if the hotel they are selecting for their executives has effective security and emergency management systems in place? Whether the employees are trained to deal with a crisis? Most often this is not the case. Hotels are usually selected based on brand recognition or loyalty programmes. However just because it is an international brand does not automatically mean that the safety and security is up to scratch. We have audited many hotels the world over, and often found security measures and performance wanting.
ISO 31030 provides clear and measurable guidelines and a benchmark for transportation, hotel and other travel needs that travel managers will be able to follow to ensure their executives are getting the safest possible options. It will facilitate budget flexibility as the supplier organizations have a vested interested in complying with the ISO guidelines, as we will discuss later.
SUPPORTS EFFECTIVE EXECUTIVE PROTECTION
The battle between EP professionals and travel managers is as old as time. More often than not, we are put in a less than ideal situation when it comes to travel risk management for our clients. Many decisions regarding travel are made without our input and even if we are consulted, we often must compromise on our recommendations. The challenge has always been that EP is sometimes viewed as a necessary evil by some people in the organization. Something to be tolerated but not always facilitated in the manner we would choose.
The introduction of the ISO 31030 guidelines and benchmark should hopefully change this dynamic. Now it will not be just our voice calling for secure transportation or a properly vetted hotel but an internationally recognized and respected standard that will support our position. We will need to work with travel managers to help ensure the guidelines are being met by the organization and implemented as required. Once this happens, it will exponentially increase our ability to provide effective protection for our clients.
Part of our responsibility will be bringing the standard to the attention of our client’s organizations and stressing the benefits and importance of compliance.
To this end it is important that we familiarize ourselves with the ISO guidelines, so we can support travel managers and PAs in implementing the standard within the organization. We will be the ones they will turn to for advice and input regarding the standard so best be prepared.
Wherever there is a standard, compliance is always the challenge.
Self-certification is prevalent in the hospitality security industry where we see auditing companies certifying hotels to a standard, they themselves established. It is like marking your own homework. We have witnessed this regarding COVID-19 19 throughout 2020. COVID-19 safe certifications popped up like mushrooms all over the world with no oversite or recognized standards. So, a hotel could put up a fancy looking certificate in the lobby saying they meet some COVID-19 safety standard however there was no independent verification of who provided the certificate or if the protocols are being followed. Indeed, there have been several exposes by journalists, showing that hotels were in fact not implementing and following the COVID-19 safety protocols they were boasting about.
The same goes for security. Just because there is a certificate on the wall, it does not mean there is effective security at the property.
So how do we ensure that the hotels that are being selected for our travellers meet the ISO guidelines?
Well, there is one security auditing company that seems to be getting it right in the hotel space in my humble opinion. Global Secure Accreditation, GSA, (https://www.gsaccreditation.com/) is, to the best of my knowledge, singular in the fact that they facilitate a third party, government level, accreditation for their audits. Allow me to explain.
This is a company, whose founder Bob Quick, has been a contributor to the development of the ISO 31030 standard and conducts security and COVID-19 independent assessments to ensure compliance.
The differentiator with GSA is that the completed assessments get submitted to a third party, independent certification body, SFJ Awards, who assesses whether the property has met the necessary standards or not. Neither GSA or the auditor have any say or influence over the certification process. It is a genuine independent third-party international accreditation process. The property must be re-certified each year to ensure compliance.
Whichever way you do it, it is important that we ensure that the hotels, transport providers and other travel arrangements comply with the ISO guidelines to help keep your travellers safe and provide you with independent credible validation of their safety and security standards.
PROTECTS CLIENTS FROM LIABILITY
Protecting life is our primary task, of that there is no question. However, below that there are other responsibilities that also fall under our purview and must not be neglected. The business end of an executive or volunteer being injured or worse in a hostile event or natural disaster has significant impact on the organization. The business repercussions can manifest as lawsuits, financial compensation, loss of income, reputational damage, and brand instability.
Part of our responsibility is to protect the business and ISO 31030 helps with that.
I have been contacted several times by law firms to testify as an expert witness in lawsuits involving travellers injured or killed in attacks on hotels. I have always declined but it brings home the fact that when people are injured or worse, lawsuits follow, and questions are asked. Should there be such an unfortunate situation after the ISO standard is launched, a prosecutor’s first question will be whether the organization followed the ISO guidelines for hotel selection. And if the answer is no, you are starting the case with two strikes against you. The judge may well want to know why the corporation or organisation failed to follow the ISO guidelines which may well have prevented the injury or loss of life.
The introduction of the ‘Travel Risk Management’ standard is long overdue and I believe this standard is a positive development for our industry that will facilitate us providing more effective support for our clients. It is now our responsibility to familiarize ourselves with the guidelines, inform our clients of ISO 31030 and advise them how best to integrate it into their travel management apparatus and share with their key stakeholders.
A New Standard for Travel Security
By: Mac Segal
Mac is the Founder of AHNA Consulting Group. AHNA the culmination of 30 years of operational, training and consulting experience in the Security Industry. Specializing in mitigation, containment, and control of a myriad of threats from terror and criminal threats to natural disasters and public safety, Mac brings real world knowledge and expertise to all facets of his performance.
As a hospitality & fixed asset Subject Matter Expert, Mac conducts security assessments and designs comprehensive security plans for hotels, event & conference centres, corporate headquarters, production facilities, and critical infrastructure the world over. Mac has published many articles on hotel and general security and is a regular speaker at security conferences the world over as well as SME to governments, major television, and print news outlets.
Mac leads training programs in Hotel Security, Event and Hospitality Security, Security Awareness & Suspicious Indicator Identification, Emergency Response Procedures, Counterterrorism, Covert Close Protection and Surveillance Detection. Born in South Africa, Mac has served in two militaries as well as government service, He has lived in Africa, Europe and the Middle East whilst operating around the globe.