Following the success of their first feature film ‘The end of travel as we know it’, Clarity Studios has released their second feature, Risk – E Business, a thriller detailing the return to travel confidence against the backdrop of a global pandemic and UK transition.
We sat down with the lead consultant on the film, and Product Development Manager at Clarity, William Murray, to get his take on travel risk and why he isn’t a fan of the term ‘duty of care’.
Interviewer: Thanks for joining us, Will. Before we get too deep into the topic, can you tell us what risk management is?
Will Murray: There can be some confusion around terms used. Risk management in non-travel scenarios often relates to financial risk management. It’s not that… travel risk management is how employers look after their employees who travel for work purposes, in the same way, they are required for employees working in office locations or worksites. The legal obligation to do this is called “Duty of Care”, which is a phrase often used as an all-compassing term for anything related to risk management. I’m not a big fan of that.
Interviewer: And why’s that?
WM: It’s become cliché and is rarely used in the correct context. Anything related to traveller wellbeing is tagged as “Duty of Care” which sounds like a tick box exercise to me. It also sounds like a legal requirement instead of something that should be embraced by businesses who want to support their travellers regardless of where they are. I heard it rephrased recently as a duty to care and I think that sounded better.
Interviewer: It definitely has a softer quality to it. Coming back to risk management, and specifically travel risk management, isn’t this just covered by your insurer?
WM: Travel insurance is more about covering financial liability within a policy rather than proactively mitigating risk. That’s why you have products specifically tailored to assessing the risk associated with a trip, to enable a travel management company to give the best, most accurate guidance and advice before, during and following a trip.
Interviewer: So, let’s say you find out a destination has a high element of risk. It’s not going to stop you from going if that’s what you need to do though, is it?
WM: Maybe not, but what it does give a business is the ability to make informed decisions. If you take our booking tool, for example, we have dynamic risk approval. So, someone travelling to the EU might need to answer a couple of simple questions, for example, are they vaccinated? However, someone trying to book flights to a high risk destination would generate an email approval check with their manager before a trip is confirmed.
This means that the approval manager can carefully assess the risk with all the information to hand, as well as avoid any flight cancellation fees if they do decide to delay the journey due to the risks.
Interviewer: Let’s say the risk is assessed and the journey is booked. What part does travel risk management play during the trip itself?
WM: Once a trip begins, the focus is on responding to unanticipated issues that may occur. Technology plays a huge part here, with apps and risk intelligence providers delivering prioritised alerts about travel disruption, security and health related incidents.
The key here is for alerts to be quick and relevant. Of course, most often the issue will be some sort of travel disruption. Clarity’s mobile app delivers trip information to the right people immediately, with automated disruption updates for flights and national rail updates. For clients who use our risk management tool Go2Track Pro, travellers also receive security briefs and in-the-moment alerts for any kind of incident, provided by Crisis24.
Interviewer: Is that everything?
WM: More? You sound like Oliver Twist. Clarity also provides a 24/7 support service over the phone, as well as a travel alerts team that keeps a constant eye on situations on a global basis, and then immediately notify the relevant people to take action. They have years of experience in all kinds of scenarios, including helping manage large scale evacuations from hostile areas.
Interviewer: I’ve noticed that you also offer updates on social media
WM: Yeah, through our Twitter page, @Clarity_BT. Our Travel Alerts team are always sending out travel disruption updates, especially now with the traffic light travel system in place.
Interviewer: We talked earlier about travel to high-risk areas, how are travellers supported there?
WM: People often imagine in-trip support as being personal security services. This is quite rare but does occur from time to time and Clarity works with risk management providers who offer this globally. One misconception is that on-the-ground security provision means travelling in a hummer with a bunch of gun-toting commandos. Most often, the safest way to conduct strategic travel is not to be noticed. Security providers are aware of the local environment and keeping a low profile while maintaining contingency options is the best approach.
Interviewer: There’s obviously lots to consider when thinking about travel risk management. What tips can you offer to employers or those travelling for business?
WM: For employers, the first thing I would say is not to be overwhelmed. There is good news as for the first time, Travel Risk Management ISO 31030 is scheduled to be live in October this year. This is the first internally recognised standard for Travel Risk Management and gives employers a practical framework to work from as well as a clear benchmark to attain. A lot of measures involved will already be available through travel management companies, like Clarity– you just need to make the most of them internally.
There’s also specialist help available. International Location Safety are contributing authors to ISO 31030 and are the Clarity preferred risk management partner. Their team have huge experience in building resilient travel risk management, through risk benchmarking and audit, online and on-site training and even extend into offering dedicated in-trip monitoring and Crisis Management. Your account manager will be able to discuss further and arrange a free risk management consultation.
William Murray can be seen in the new feature film from Clarity Studios, Risk-E Business, not coming to a cinema near you.
You can find further information about Clarity's duty to care products and services here.