Jill Anonson has more than 20 years of experience in strategic incentive travel, event management and sales strategy, and serves as the Events Solution Manager at ITA Group. She is responsible for market definition, competitive research, business plan development and more while creating strategies and solutions that help ITA Group thrive. ITA Group creates and manages incentives, events and recognition programs that align and motivate people. Headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa, ITA Group has operations in every region of the United States and award solutions for 75+ countries globally. www.itagroup.com
It’s no secret that elements of the evolving global landscape trickle over into the travel industry. New risks and threats pop up without warning, and the travel and event industry is particularly vulnerable to the changes. What seems like a safe destination one day might raise eyebrows the next, forcing event planners into a difficult spot.
“Safeguarding proprietary information such as company financial data and trade secrets, as well as guest information, is imperative.”
Yet, according to a Global Business Travel Association survey, nearly 30 percent of companies reported their organization lacked a risk management plan or were unsure if there was one. That’s an incredibly vulnerable position for travel planners and their clients alike.
The good news is that the risk inherent in incentive travel can be successfully mitigated through risk management. Designing and delivering safe yet once-in-a-lifetime experiences in all corners of the world can be a reality if a comprehensive and flexible approach is used.
Before you can mitigate risk, you need to assess it. How much is too much? Consider these questions before selecting your destination:
Arming yourself with as much timely and accurate intelligence as you can gather will allow you to identify and assess the risks of a destination. Securing legitimate intelligence will largely depend on the authenticated resources to which you have access. While destination management professionals and the news media may be able to offer insight, a qualified intelligence professional (i.e., a global security expert) often can deliver more pertinent and timely information. If you don’t have a proper resource on staff who can deliver the necessary level of accuracy or detail, consider contracting with a professional individual or team that can.
A crisis management or emergency management plan is essential. The destination-specific intelligence you gather will allow you to fine tune that plan, mitigating risk down to the lowest possible level. The plan should include — but is not limited to — these strategies:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “…the hazards associated with travel cannot be eliminated. …The goal in travel and in travel medicine should be skillfully managing risk, rather than trying to eliminate risk.”
From potentially life-threatening medical emergencies to travel-related injury and illness, the risk of a situation requiring medical attention is quite likely with a large group of travelers, making it critical to have medical care procedures in place. Well in advance of the trip, research and complete a checklist that details:
While the evolution of technology as it relates to travel and events is of immense value, the benefits come with substantial risk. Safeguarding proprietary information such as company financial data and trade secrets, as well as guest information, is imperative. Your data risk management approach should be carefully planned with your information technology team. Data collection/encryption, network security and security access features of your event spaces need to be analyzed. Third-party services being utilized by technology suppliers to collect information and the privacy policies in place should be examined. Also, appropriate social media policies should be established for your event.
Consider the data security of your individual attendees, asking these questions:
A travel experience or event is an investment for your company — and protecting that investment is critical to its success. There may be times when the risk is greater than the reward, and cancellation becomes a reality, or events outside your control force you to revise travel dates or switch hotels. But there are protective measures you can take to protect yourself and your investment. Here are five major contracting considerations:
The bottom line is that exercising sound risk management is good business. Mitigating risk is a win for you, your business and your valued guests. C&IT