How to prepare your employees to deal with any situation while traveling overseas

Keeping your employees safe and productive while they’re traveling requires a series of sound decisions, starting well before the trip even begins.

Having a plan in place to deal with the unexpected and making employees aware of it takes some of the worry out of travel and can be a lifesaver should travel be interrupted, as it was for thousands in Europe recently as a result of a volcanic eruption in Iceland.

“With a plan, employees know what to do, who to call and how to handle a particular situation,” says Kathleen France, director of international reservations and services at Professional Travel Inc. “And if they’re not sure how to handle it, they at least know where they can go to get answers.”

Smart Business spoke with France about how partnering with a professional travel agency and developing a plan can help prepare your employees to deal with any situation they may encounter while traveling.

Is there an increased focus on being prepared for disruptions to travel?

After 9/11, when employers were frantic to account for all of their employees, everyone started to think about these things and be more proactive about them, but then the concerns moved to the back burner. But with the Iceland volcano causing the largest transportation disruption since World War II, the focus is back on travel disruption. Companies haven’t been able to get a hold of employees, some employees were traveling with very low credit card limits, they were being delayed day after day, and many employers that had no plans in place were scrambling to try to make adjustments.

But those with a plan in place had a much easier time, as they had a partner who could facilitate communication, get credit card limits raised, help employers wire money or direct stranded travelers to take the appropriate actions to stay safe and productive until they were able to return home.

How can working with an agency help a company develop a plan to protect its traveling employees?

An agency can help you begin to think about things you may not have considered. Do you have enough insurance? Do you have medical insurance that covers you no matter where you are? Are you self-insured for car rental? Does your credit card have enough credit available should you be stranded somewhere for an extended time? Does your cell phone work in another country? Does your computer? These are all things that a lot of people just don’t think about.

An agency can also help employers develop a strict travel policy that mandates that all bookings — cars, hotel and air — are made through a central location. Doing so ensures that all travel information relating to all your employees is in one place, providing a central clearinghouse for both employers and employees in case of the unexpected.