3 tips to stay safe during holiday travel

November 22nd, 2017 No comments

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Planes, trains, or automobiles; no matter which method of travel you or your loved ones will utilize, it is important to keep the following tips in mind traveling.

Use a Designated Driver/Ride Share Service:

The holidays often provide a mixture of family, food, and fun. Within that combination, you can usually find alcohol mixed in. To ensure safety on the road, designate a sober driver and do not drive impaired. A designated driver will be able to respond to road situations and other drivers with confidence and deliver you and your loved ones home safely.

Research the Weather:

Knowing what the weather conditions will be prior to travel will enable you to adjust your travel plans accordingly. If foul weather is predicted, call your airline or train station to determine if your trip will be delayed or canceled. Having this information before you go will help eliminate being stranded at the airport or train station.

Do your Homework:

While traveling to an overseas destination, make sure to do your homework on the location you are visiting. Review the country’s destination reports, look at where the hotel is located and research the area around it. Plan routes to your events ahead of time by taking screenshots or printing out directions in case your GPS does not function.

To learn more about travel safety, please visit: www.travelwithCAP.com

Three Things to Consider When Travelling to a Country with Heightened Security Levels

October 17th, 2017 No comments

FP-Content-Marketing-Tiles-Heightened-Security-Levels

Since the events of September 11, 2001, the way we travel for business and leisure has forever changed. The reality is that we now seamlessly factor into our daily lives and global economy the risk of terrorism and criminal activity, particularly when it comes to travel. Specific areas of the world can be more dangerous than others. If you find yourself traveling to an area where there are heightened security levels, you need to be aware of what you could potentially experience, and know how to prepare and take into consideration the following three points.

Know Before You Go

Before you go, research your destination to get some insight into the social and political landscape. The first step is to review the destination’s report that your company or TRM service has provided you. You should also check in with the US State Department and your company’s security and risk department. Talk to colleagues that have been there to find out what their experience was. Knowing the environment you are traveling to will help you make the right decisions protecting yourself.

Plan, Communicate, Breadcrumb

When traveling to high-risk destinations, developing a detailed plan will help highlight potential pitfalls or heightened risks to your trip. Have pre-arranged car services, hotels, meetings/locations, and if necessary executive protection secured and confirmed before departure. Once that has been established, make sure to communicate it to family/friends, your security department, your TRM provider, and even the US State Department STEP program. Ensure you check-in frequently – essentially breadcrumb your activity and locations to your company and trusted family/friends. Avoid posting your activities on social media, as this can provide your location, and make you prey to potential wrongdoers.

Ensure You Have a Comprehensive Travel Risk Management Program

Understand that there are risks associated to both domestic and international travel and ensure you have a program that will warrant your safety. In high-risk areas, make sure you or your company have comprehensive security, terrorism or evacuation insurance in case you need to get out of the country, prior to traveling. Discovering that your plan does not cover these risks while you are in the midst of a crisis, can potentially lead to a harmful and expensive outcome.

 

What’s on Your Nightstand?

July 6th, 2017 No comments

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Everybody travels differently. Some of us like to make sure we have the aisle seat on a plane, some of us like to make sure that everything is unpacked the moment we arrive and some of us like to travel in the early mornings. How we travel is as unique as the person who is traveling, but there are aspects to traveling that most us do. We call loved ones to let them know our itineraries, and we ensure that our carry-on luggage does not have any fluids over 3 ounces, we set our out of office reminders, read our destination reports and so on. We each take the necessary travel precautions before traveling to ensure our safety while away from home. However, what about when you are in your hotel room? What can you do to ensure the best possible outcome should an emergency occur? There are numerous training seminars and courses that you can take to help you or your organization become a smarter safer traveler, but this blog is about the best advice I received years ago; a ‘go bag’. I still use it every time I travel.

A ‘go bag’ is a bag used in case of an emergency. You can quickly grab it and escape the hotel with all of your vital information and documents. I keep mine on my nightstand everywhere I travel. Just like how we travel is unique, what is in your ‘go bag’ will be too, but there are some essential items that you should keep in it.

  • A doorstop
    • It can be a simple $2 doorstop you can purchase from any hardware store or a more advanced version with an alarm on it. The doorstop is placed under the door on the inside of the room. This will prevent an intruder from opening the door from the outside – either with a key or
  • Passport or copy of it
    • In an emergency, taking the time to find your passport could end in disaster, delaying you escaping the hotel or country.
  • Small flashlight
    • It is hard enough to walk around an area you are familiar with in the dark, it is extremely difficult to do so in an unfamiliar area during an emergency. A small, powerful flashlight will help you find your way to safety.
  • Cell phone battery charger
    • Having an additional charger on hand will ensure that you can contact your family, work, and even your travel risk management company to let them know where you are and aid you in getting you to safety.
  • Cash
    • Keeping a small amount of cash in the bag will enable you to take a cab to safety, get a meal, or buy some clothes if needed. If the emergency affects the local electrical grid, merchants will not be able to use their credit card machines, ATMs and the Internet will cease working.
  • Vital medicine
    • Having a few days (or more) worth of necessary medicine will give you time to contact your medical evacuation provider, family practitioner, or go to a local hospital to have the prescriptions refilled.
  • A copy of your TRM provider card
    • I keep a copy of my CAP card in my bag. In the event of an emergency, they are my first call. They can guide me to a safe location, contact my work, family and loved ones, help me obtain a new visa or passport, or get me medical attention so I can concentrate on the emergency at hand.

A ‘go bag’ will help you achieve the basic level of safety and security in a moment of crisis. Whatever else you put into it is up to you. I keep extra hair ties in mine. If I am in a crisis, my hair does not need to be. Travel safely.

 

Travel Friction

May 8th, 2017 No comments

business traveler

This morning I headed off to the airport for my domestic flight to Texas. When I got to the airport, I pulled out my ID and my electronic boarding pass and went to check my bag. I went to the self-check-in kiosk, punched in my confirmation code, grabbed the baggage tag and then placed my bag on the belt and proceeded through security. While I waited for my flight, I sat on the ground (since all the waiting area seat were taken) and I began to think about how the travel industry has slowly started to chip away at the services they provide to the consumer. I understand that some of these actions are necessary and consumers have become voracious in researching all their options out there. They can search multiple sites at the click of the button and then with three more clicks book that deal from their smartphones. Companies need to find ways to save their bottom line while remaining appealing to potential customers. This is a fine line that companies need to walk. Some can and will do it better than others, but ultimately customers will affect the changes that they want with their wallets and social media.

However, what about your employees? How does your corporate travel policy affect your employees’ travel experience and level of travel friction? Always booking the cheapest flight, hotel, rental car, etc., can take an unfair toll on your employees. This is something that companies need to navigate delicately. With too much travel friction and stress, employees may begin to deny travel, or worse, look for another company which fits their needs better. The costs associated with consistently hiring new employees can make a big impact on the health of an organization.  The needs of each company are going to be different, but some of the core questions that have to be asked when designing your corporate travel policy should include:

  • Does our policy put undo stress on the traveler?
  • Does the travel budget put the traveler in an unsafe environment, by putting them in an undesirable location putting them at risk?
  • Are the employees able to say no to travel in high-risk areas, if they feel uncomfortable due to a political threat, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs?
  • What is your evacuation policy to aid your employee if the environment begins to deteriorate? Are you able to remove your employee before a crisis occurs?
  • How are your vendors and partners going to work with you to ensure that any stress experienced is as minimal as possible to both you and your employee?

Travel is unavoidable in our global economy, but how we minimize travel friction is not. Look at the services provided and the prices associated with them; it will help you find the right provider, both personally and professionally. Sometimes, when you see the real costs, you realize what looked like the cheapest option, really was not in the end.

Communication, Communication, Communication

March 8th, 2017 No comments

One of the joys of working for a company that is experiencing tremendous growth is being a part of that expansion. Last weekend, I took the plunge and packed up my home and car, and said farewell to Boston and move to sunny Florida to be a part of our new worldwide command center. It is a bittersweet moment for me, saying goodbye to friends and family, yet being on the precipice of new opportunities and challenges.

As I started my long solo drive down the coast, I checked-in with friends and relatives to let them know where I was and how the ride was fairing, essentially bread-crumbing myself. Each stop, I would send a text or make a quick call, not only because I wanted to say hello but because they were concerned about my safety. On my last overnight stop in Savannah, this blog topic came to mind; your company’s business travel policy is only as good as the communication you give and receive.

If I had not frequently been updating my friends on my whereabouts along the way, how would anyone know my location if I had fell victim to an unfortunate event? It would have made aiding me an arduous task. Being a solo traveler also meant that I needed to take my safety and security seriously. If I posted my journey on social media, I needed to take extra precautions such as not tagging exact locations, mentioning that I was alone, and to drive during daylight only on frequently traveled roads. Traveling solo, and as a female comes with its unique set of circumstances and risks. You need to be vigilant on what risks you take.

Fortunately, I have my FocusPoint CAP membership. The membership provides assistance should I face any security or medical related events while on my journey. Also, as a member I leave GPS breadcrumbs, allowing my company to know where I am in case of an emergency. When I was at a gas station in Virginia, I locked my car when I went inside the station to pay. When I returned, I noticed that one of my doors did not lock. It shook me a little bit, but I calmed down and relaxed since I knew that with my CAP membership, I would have help if I needed it in the event that I was the victim of a violent crime.

Communication is your best defense, but it is a two-way street. It only works if each party is communicating to the best of their ability. If you are the person in charge of running your travel management program, you are not only tasked with communicating what your travel policy is, but you also have a duty of care responsibility to keep your travelers informed and updated on the potential risks they may face while traveling.

As I jump back into my Jeep this morning for the final leg of my journey, I will make sure my tank is full, and my coffee cup is filled, CAP membership card is in my wallet, update my location and have Bruce Springsteen tunes set to shuffle. The Jeep and I have an important opportunity in Florida that just can’t wait.

International Women’s Day Webinar Series: Know the Ropes & Travel with Confidence

March 3rd, 2017 No comments

International Women’s Day is March 8th!

FocusPoint International and AFIMAC Global are celebrating by hosting a educational 2-part webinar series discussing travel risk management specific to female travelers! Click here to register!

FPIWD

Webinar Part One

Speaker: Lisa Arredondo,
Director Strategic Development,
FocusPoint International
Date: March 8, 2017 1PM EST

Outline

The webinar will highlight how some legal systems and cultural ideologies present challenges for female travelers. We will also discuss Duty of Care within corporate travel policies specific to female travelers in 2017.

 

 

Webinar Part Two

Speaker: Maria Teresa Septien,
Director Business Development
Latin America, AFIMAC Global
Date: March 15, 2017 1PM EST

Outline

During this webinar, we will identify common mistakes and behaviors that drive criminal activity overseas, and examine scenarios where female travelers were targeted and attacked. This webinar will also examine the role of technology as it relates to communication capabilities and mitigating risk during travel.

Key Highlights

  • Unique challenges female travelers experience internationally; the impact of gender based cultural ideologies on the rights and freedoms of women traveling in certain regions
  • How to determine if and when gender specific travel policies are necessary
  • How to create an effective traveler tool kit to better prepare for international travel
Key Highlights

  • What women can expect when traveling abroad and best practices for handling emergencies overseas
  • Use of technology in travel risk mitigation
  • Safety strategies for women traveling to unfamiliar regions
  • First response in an emergency or crisis when traveling– what to do

Click here for more details and to register today!

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Travel Risk Management: Sick and Abroad

February 23rd, 2017 No comments

Travelling is a way of life for me. I developed the travelling ‘bug’ when I was touring the country with my family going from one sporting event to another. It has been a long time since the days of riding in the back of my parent’s station wagon and drawing imaginary lines to delineate where my sister or brother could not cross. Nowadays, I find myself travelling for both work and pleasure and I could not be happier. The road warrior way of life suits me just fine.

Given that I am on a first name basis with the local TSA agents, it came as a shock that I let a simple travelling error almost kill me. I forgot the prescription for my antibiotics that I was taking while travelling to Florida. Normally, this is not a big deal considering that I was nearing the end of the regime. However, on this trip, the infection started to flare up. Exhausted, stressed out, and in need of medical assistance, I called my medical provider back home. Within minutes, a doctor sent over a prescription to a local pharmacy. I was relieved that I would feel better soon as I swallowed the dose of meds, but then things went from bad to worse.

The pill was penicillin. I am highly allergic to penicillin. Immediately, I called my doctor and went through what had happened. New prescriptions were sent over. Then I realized that I might have to be admitted to a hospital as a solo female traveller and that hit me hard. I was going to need my employer’s travel assistance program (CAPTM) quickly if things continued its downward trend. I pulled out my CAPTM travel assistance membership card and placed it on the nightstand. I did not have the slightest clue as to what was a reputable hospital and where even to go. What I did know is that my CAPTM membership would have this information. They would triage my medical situation, transport me to the hospital, provide a medical bedside advocate to make sure my care was being properly performed and then transport me to my home hospital of choice if needed. It made me feel more secure knowing that I was not alone and that I would not have to worry about the cost of these services because they were covered through CAPTM.

Luckily, I am sitting at my desk, two weeks later writing this blog. When thinking back, that one small error caused a tremendous amount of risk in my life and cemented a couple of thoughts for me:

  • Mistakes happen – even the most experienced make them
  • When travelling alone, you are at the mercy of others, so be prepared and take precautions
  • Call and ask for help from your travel risk management provider
  • Remember your prescriptions
  • Imaginary lines still exist – only now I draw them on airplane armrests

 

Wishing you safe travels in the New Year and if you see me at the airport, give me a wave.