Is it time to re-think the unpredictable risks of business travel?
The International SOS released its new travel risk mitigation insight titled ‘Rethink Unpredictable‘, which extracted the last three financial years of regional business travel medical, security and assistance case data and expert analysis to determine upcoming business travel trends that question the concept of volatile travel risks.
Challenging this concept is important to our region as seven in 10 (72 per cent) Australasia based business travel health and security personnel say travel risks have increased over the past year. Of those risks, 64 per cent of Australia and New Zealand respondents think terrorism increased in 2016. Despite that perception, terrorism-related deaths around the world decreased both in 2016 and 2017, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace’s annual Global Terrorism Index..
Travel myths versus realities
International SOS Security Australasia Director Sally Napper says less than one per cent of the security alerts sent out by International SOS in the 2016-17 fiscal year related to terrorist warnings and events.
“Despite the increased coverage of terrorism in the news, travellers are far more likely to encounter road traffic accidents, petty crime, illness or other issues such as a lost passport or flight delays that disrupt travel and can impact business continuity,” she explains.
Debunking the difference in perceived travel security threats versus real destination risks is an important travel security issue impacting Australasia-based businesses today. “The majority of travel security calls we take in our Assistance Centres focus on pre-travel advice and education aimed at helping travellers mitigate common threats they may face overseas,” said Napper. Other trending travel security concerns include understanding individual traveller risk profiles, protecting company data, and keeping up with the changing risk environment in different countries.
Along with analysing security trends, Rethink Unpredictable also focuses on medical travel risks. A few of the emerging health preoccupations impacting regional businesses include stress and mental health issues, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the changing medico-legal environment, and the use of telehealth to optimise expert care whilst travelling.
Common cause of medical evacuations
It would be easy to assume that the vast majority medical cases happen in high-risk countries; however, almost half (43 per cent) of medical cases managed by the International SOS Sydney Assistance Centre between 2016 and 2017 occurred in low to medium risk countries. Less than one per cent of all cases require a costly and disruptive evacuation, but case data shows the most common cause of medical evacuations (38 per cent) in the corporate sector are due to cardiovascular diseases and almost half (44 per cent) of all in-patient cases of clients in the education sector are related to injuries. This new data shows these risks are not as unpredictable as they seem.
“While each medical case is unique, over the years we’ve found a common theme in the health risks travellers face, which is that most of them can be mitigated by systemic and comprehensive planning,” says Dr Nhlanhla Mpofu from International SOS.
From a minor medical condition to support during social unrest, it’s much less costly in human impact, time efficiency and hard cost terms to have appropriate support in place. Travel risk mitigation programs focus on prevention, risk mitigation, and risk avoidance while helping to prepare people before they travel and assisting managers to make better decisions about managing risk before anything happens.
For the results on the agribusiness, non-for-profit and financial services sector, along with other information on the top challenges businesses face in protecting their mobile workforce, visit rethinkunpredictable.com.au.
 Ipsos MORI study comm. by Intl.SOS. (2016). Travel Risks & Reality: The new normal for business