On September 23, 2019, over 150,000 travelers found themselves stranded at airports across the world. Thomas Cook, Britain’s oldest and most well-known travel agency, had suddenly gone out of business the night before—along with its fleet of 105 jets under the banner of Thomas Cook Airlines.
At midnight, the 178-year-old travel agency had failed to meet a deadline set by creditors and went into compulsory liquidation. Two minutes after midnight, its first jet to land was impounded at Manchester Airport. Many others would follow, at airports across the world.
For the thousands of stranded travelers—both business and leisure—this came out of nowhere. Their flights had been canceled completely without warning, and for many, it was unclear how they were going to get home. Contradictory reports abounded; reliable information seemed impossible to come by.
It was at this point that the British government stepped into action. In what is now the UK’s biggest peacetime repatriation, Britain chartered 150,000 stranded travelers back to their home country.
Obviously, this is an extreme example of travel gone awry. But when it comes to business travel—especially international business travel—your organization needs to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Many of the companies that chose to book their business trips that Monday through Thomas Cook were blindsided.
Situations like this one call for a business travel safety app, which allows an organization to quickly see which employees are affected and how. With a business travel safety app, organizations with employees flying on Thomas Cook Airlines would have been able to quickly identify and communicate with impacted employees—to start coordinating a response.
Why Your Business Needs A Business Travel Safety App
From an organizational perspective, travel is one of the most costly and complex aspects of business operations. Business travel introduces so many unknowns—many of which can pose a threat to employee safety and business continuity.
Your Employees Face A Lot of Risks
Every time your employees travel, they face a list of risks, many of which are novel to you because you aren’t facing them on a daily basis at your home office. They include:
- Criminal threats, including sexual assault and theft
- Political risks, including riots and mass strikes
- Health risks
- Weather-related risks, including hurricanes, wildfires, and winter weather
- “Everyday” risks, such as car wrecks, lost passports, and stolen wallets
- And more.
Some of these, such as weather, can be predicted. Some can be prevented, such as health risks. But many risks will be completely spontaneous and unforeseen. These can wreak havoc on your employees’ travel plans and your business continuity.
The Challenge For Businesses
What can you as a leader in your organization do to help your travelers?
Your primary challenge is identifying the threat. Most companies don’t have a person dedicated to managing business travel. This means that there is no single person that knows who is traveling where at any given time.
Then add in the fact that your traveling employees are likely in different time zones, experiencing different weather, and at risk of different local threats.
Plus—they will probably be less responsive to regular communication channels (like email) while they are away.
We haven’t even mentioned the problem of the “rogue” traveler, the 40% of US business travelers who admit to ignoring their company’s travel policies. Can you provide protection when your employees are staying at unapproved hotels?
All this adds up to a major headache for businesses. There are simply too many variables to try to handle business travel safety manually. Travel safety apps help ease this burden by using comprehensive threat data and intelligent filtering to do the hard work for you.
Why Travelers Should Want A Business Travel Safety App
Your employees will also be thankful that they have a business travel safety app. Think back to the people stranded at airports across the country after Thomas Cook unexpectedly went bankrupt. The worst part of a situation like that is the uncertainty. Employees are wondering:
- Why did this happen?
- How will I get to my destination?
- How does this affect my work commitments?
- Who needs to know?
Business travel safety apps answer these questions for your employees—oftentimes before they even know to ask. By using 24/7 threat monitoring, a business travel safety app will alert your employees to threats before they are even aware they exist.
For example, they can get alerts to avoid certain neighborhoods, proactive notification of severe weather, or instructions to avoid local health risks. This will keep them safe, connected, and informed.
At the end of the day, your employees are looking for peace of mind while traveling. They are going to an area they don’t know, often alone or in a small group, without a great idea of what to do or who to call if things go wrong. A business travel safety app will go a long way to giving them that peace of mind they desire.
Four Essential Features for a Business Travel Safety App
To prepare for such a wide array of threats, you need to equip your business travelers with a business travel safety app. Here are the key features to look for:
#1 – Comprehensive Threat Monitoring
When you think of business travel risks, there are a few things that likely come to mind. Flight cancellations, severe weather, accidental injuries. While these are all certainly risks that your organization should have a plan for, the list only starts there.
Consider the broader array of threats that could impact your business travelers:
- SECURITY: Major protests, criminal activity, active shooters
- TRANSPORTATION: Significant road or airport closures
- COMMUNICATIONS: Cell coverage outages
- LEGAL: Changes to laws that could impact personnel or operations
- FINANCIAL: Important developments in the finance sector
- HEALTH: Disease outbreaks
- ENTRY/EXIT: Changes in immigration policies
- CULTURE: National holidays, religious festivals, anniversaries
- ENVIRONMENT: Air quality, excessive heat
- SEVERE WEATHER: Winter weather, flooding, tornados, tsunamis
All of these are real threats to your business travelers’ safety and ability to do their jobs without interruption. The Thomas Cook disaster is Exhibit A when it comes to unexpected disruptions to business travel.
Your business travel safety app needs to monitor all these types of threats, worldwide, 24/7. You can’t expect to be manually tracking local news feeds in every area that you have employees traveling.
Modern travel safety systems like AlertMedia’s local threat monitoring system compile threat data from trusted analysts and sources around the world. These threats are viewable both by admins and your employees—through their mobile app.
Additionally, make sure that your travel safety app provides comprehensive threat data. It’s not enough to simply know that a threat exists. You need to know the details, the nitty-gritty. After all—you have to determine how this is going to affect your employees. You can’t do this effectively unless your travel safety app provides detailed and actionable threat information.
#2 – Real-Time Location Tracking
The second essential feature for your business traveler safety app is GPS-enabled location tracking. Tracking threats is only half of the equation. At any given moment, there are tens of thousands of threats impacting people worldwide. You need to know which of these threats are relevant to you. In other words, which threats are going to impact your business travelers?
To answer this question, you need to know where your business travelers are—plus which threats are impacting those areas. As a manual task, this would be impossible. You can’t expect to keep track of all of your business travelers’ real-time locations while you also juggle all of the threats that impact those areas.
But you can—and should—expect that from your business travel safety app. AlertMedia’s local threat monitoring app constantly analyzes your location data against threat data from around the globe to assess the risk for your business and people. It operates constantly, capturing updated location data as your people travel across locations, moving within harm’s way of any threat.
#3 – Customized Alerts
This is where customized alerts come in. After the system has identified that one of your business travelers is in the radius of a threat, you need to get that information to the affected employee as quickly as possible. Make sure that your business travel safety app gives you multiple options for how to deliver this message.
Your first option should be to have an automatic message delivered to system admins. As soon as a threat emerges that could impact one of your employees, the system will send an immediate description of the threat to anyone you designate as an administrator. Then you can decide what action to take based on the threat data and send a customized message to the affected business traveler.
Your second option is to have the system automatically notify at-risk employees directly. This cuts out the middle-man and gets the threat information to impacted employees immediately. When time is of the essence, automatic notifications to at-risk travelers can be a lifesaver.
The reality is, both of these options are appropriate for different situations. For high-severity, time-sensitive threats (like active shooters), you can’t risk even a minute’s delay in getting the threat warning to your people that are in danger. For more slow-developing threats, though, like severe weather, it is probably wise to first notify admins—so that they can make decisions and pass on a more specific action plan.
Make sure your business travel safety app gives you the ability to customize how you want your alerts delivered. AlertMedia’s emergency notification app lets you set different delivery preferences based on the type and severity of the threat.
#4 – Reliable Two-Way Communication
Once you and your traveling employee are both aware of a threat, there will need to be a dialogue regarding the appropriate response and what actions your organization is going to take. This is complicated, though, by the fact that you will likely have multiple employees in the affected area—often each with their own unique situation.
You need to be able to streamline the parallel communication channels you’ll be juggling when dealing with threats like these. AlertMedia gives system admins a clean dashboard where they can see and respond to all the employees who are within the threat radius.
From that dashboard, you can see all responses, initiate new messages, and survey employees (e.g. whether they are in need of assistance). Your employees, meanwhile, can communicate whichever way is easiest for them. If they respond to the SMS threat warning, then they can continue to communicate with you over SMS. Or, if they prefer to use the mobile app, they can do that as well. They even have the option to proactively signal for help while traveling—using AlertMedia’s panic button functionality.
Take Advantage of Modern Technology
Business travel is bigger than ever before. Since 2010, business travel has grown by about 5% each year—all the way to $1.33 trillion. With this explosive growth, though, comes increased stakes for businesses. It is more important than ever before to be prepared for the myriad of threats that can disrupt your employees’ travel plans and well-being.
The answer is technology. By using cutting-edge tools to monitor threats and communicate with employees, your organization can streamline your response to any business travel disruption—no matter how unpredictable.
AlertMedia’s business travel safety app is the most sophisticated threat monitoring tool on the market. By utilizing expertly-curated threat data, along with the smartphones your employees take with them wherever they go, AlertMedia gives you and your employees the actionable threat information you need to keep your business travelers safe.
Interested in AlertMedia’s business travel safety app?