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Business Travel

Protecting your business travellers with travel risk management (TRM)


Sandy Moring

Director of Education, ITM

Travelling is a key enabler of conducting business so when companies send their best assets around the world to represent them and need a profitable return on investment on the trip cost, it is essential that they are looked after.  

Travel risk management (TRM) is a crucial part of that journey to ensure hazards are mitigated by having a proactive duty of care programme in place to increase safety, security and ultimately, protect the bottom line.

Is TRM important?

In 2007, the introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter Act, and in Scotland, the Corporate Homicide Act, was a landmark in law.  According to the Health and Safety Executive, “For the first time, companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.”  Duty of care to travellers for their safety, security and wellbeing continues to remain the top priority for travel managers as recorded in a survey by the Institute of Travel Management in December 2018.

Taking a proactive approach to mitigating risk by having a TRM programme encourages travellers to adopt better practices when “on the road” and provides structured procedures to communication, pre and during trip processes, responsibilities for ongoing management of the programme, risk response roles and responsibilities and increased protection of the corporate identity.  A TRM programme can be implemented to automatically update travelling employees with risk information about their travel plans.  It can also alert users to local medical and security services that may be useful to them, should the need arise.

Your duty of care as an employer

TRM is applicable whether travelling domestically or internationally but comes into its own when the risk environment is higher.  That may be influenced geographically or politically and additionally, often by the traveller involved.  Identifying travellers who have not previously visited destinations which have more challenging environments should be flagged up as a risk which may require pre-trip authorisation to travel.  The TRM Programme would ideally then educate and train to prepare for the environment to be visited.  It should ensure their arrival & stay is effectively managed with the support of local offices and/or preferred suppliers, such as a meet and greet car service to take them to the contracted hotel or company office.

Duty of care as a traveller

Regular road warriors can equally be a challenge as they might underplay the risk having “survived” previous trips and start cutting corners in the processes put in place to mitigate risk.  These travellers need to be reminded of the need to follow the TRM Programme and keep alert.  Travellers also need to understand that they have a duty of care to themselves to keep safe. 

Locating and communicating with business travellers

By nature of the world we live in, something will always be happening which we have little or no control over.  At these times, being able to locate and support travelling staff fast is often key to the final outcome of the incident.  Communication channels need to be established with the support of either the appointed TRM company or via the booking source, such as a Travel Management Company (TMC).  To respond and control the potential of further risk, working together is essential.

Looking after the wellbeing of your travelling employees

Having concrete travel risk management has also been linked to a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme. Beyond liabilities, organisations should have TRM programmes in place for the wellbeing of their employees as well as to mitigate any business disruptions that can have an impact on the bottom-line. Employee wellbeing may impact their feeling towards their employer and their work as a whole. This could result in higher staff turnover and lower productivity levels which may significantly affect your profitability. 

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