Three in ten (29 percent) travel managers report they do not know how long it would take to locate affected employees in a crisis, according to a study by the GBTA Foundation.

Overall, one-half (50 percent) of travel managers say, in the event of an emergency, they can locate all of their employees in the affected area within two hours or less. Additionally, three in five (60 percent) travel managers rely on travelers to reach out if they need help and have not booked through proper channels.

The study, How to Close Risk Management Loopholes, explores how traveler safety protocols are established and executed, including the extent to which technology is utilized and integrated into the greater travel program.

“Research reveals significant gaps in educating travelers about resources available to them and the existence of protocols should the unforeseen happen,” said Kate Vasiloff, GBTA Foundation Director of Research. “Failing to establish and communicate safety measures leaves travelers and organizations vulnerable. As both security threats and technology evolve, even the most robust protocols that once served companies well may now have weaknesses requiring immediate attention and modification.”

“With business travel and global uncertainties on the rise, companies today face more pressure than ever to ensure the safety of their travelers,” said Mike Eberhard, President, Concur. “If a crisis or incident occurs, it’s critical that businesses be prepared to quickly locate employees and determine who may need assistance.”

Regardless of which department formally oversees the duty of care program, travel managers still play a key role in supporting travelers should disaster strike, which is why the vast majority (85 percent) of travel programs include risk management protocols. Over the past two years, prevalence of domestic travel risk management protocols have increased to rival those of international travel. Despite this progress, there continues to be room for improvement as only three in five (62 percent) international travelers are given pre-travel information and even fewer (53 percent) are given information on local providers for medical and security assistance services before leaving the country.

Once it has been determined travelers are in an area experiencing a security threat, every minute spent trying to get in touch could be putting them in greater risk. Live personal calls (58 percent) and automated emails to business addresses (52 percent) are the most popular methods of communicating with travelers in an emergency.

To manage the complexity that comes with building and maintaining a robust duty of care program, two-thirds (65 percent) of organizations retain the services of third-party safety and security companies. At organizations using third-party safety and security companies, four out of five travel managers report travelers can be tracked anywhere (84 percent) at any time (81 percent).

Depending on the maturity of the program, travel managers may have access to many different data sources, most of which are automated. The full potential of automated data cannot be reached, however, unless the systems are integrated, and less than one-half (47 percent) of travel managers report their Online Booking Tool (OBT) and expense tools are integrated, while only one in five (21 percent) say their safety and security tools are integrated with their OBT and expense tools.

Consolidating data into a central system allows for faster retrieval of information when needed, yet less than one-third (29 percent) of travel managers currently have systems that automatically merge all data sources, while two in five (41 percent) maintain separate systems. Notably, one in six (17 percent) rely on employees to reach out for assistance when in need.

Only one-in-five (20 percent) travel managers report using technology to capture traveler data booked outside their travel program. One-third (31 percent) of travel managers monitor travelers once at the destination through GPS-data, like a mobile check-in, but this is traveler dependent. Failure to collect traveler data – for whatever reason – does not absolve an organization of their duty of care obligations.