SOS survey: Travel risks on the rise

HONG KONG, 30 November 2017: Perception of risk remains at an elevated level with 63% of business decision-makers saying they believe travel risks have increased in the past year.

It was a key conclusion from the latest insights presented by International SOS, Wednesday.

The Ipsos MORI Global Business Resilience Trends Watch 2018 survey reveals the latest insights into the actions and attitudes of business decision-makers when it comes to the health, safety and security of their global mobile workforce.

Now in its second year, the study states that the perception of risk remains elevated, and while organisations are increasingly implementing prevention and mitigation measures, there are still opportunities for improvement as major strategic aspects are being missed.

International SOS and Control Risks launch the latest edition of its award-winning Travel Risk Map. The digital map includes revised risk ratings and social sharing enhancements. Risk ratings are the reason why 42% of organisations modified travel itineraries in 2017.

The survey found that travel plans were changed, predominantly, due to concerns over security threats (58%), followed by natural disasters (43%).

This was consistent across the globe, apart from the Americas where natural disasters were first and security threats second.  At a global level these are followed by travel risk ratings (42%) and civil unrest (34%).

The survey showed that 63% of business decision-makers perceive travel risks to have increased in the past year.

However, the Americas and Australasia regions stand out with 78% and 72% respectively reporting increased risk in 2017.

Risk rating changes on the latest edition of the Travel Risk Map include increase risk in some areas of the Caribbean and Puerto Rico due to the effects of the hurricanes and a decrease in risk in some European countries thanks to improved standards of medical care.

While the preventative agenda in medical and travel risk mitigation is clearly on the rise, the survey reveals that a strategic and far-reaching view may currently be a missed opportunity by many organisations. Only 9% of organisations updated their sustainability programme to include their travel risk policy and just 10% introduced a wellbeing policy, falling at the bottom of the risk mitigation techniques implemented in 2017.

International SOS medical director of information and analysis, Dr Irene Lai says: “A staggering 91% of organisations have potentially not included their travel risk programme in their overall business sustainability programme and 90% are seemingly ignoring the impact a wellbeing policy could have on their travelling workforce. This is despite an increasing understanding of how these techniques can impact within the context of the GRI Index.”

Organisations continue to introduce risk mitigation techniques. The most frequent step taken in response to travel health and security concerns is the introduction of pre-trip and during trip emails, with 39% of decision makers reporting they have introduced this in 2017. However, organisations still face barriers in ensuring the health and security of travellers, with educating employees (53%) the most common challenge in ensuring the health and security of travellers, followed by with employees in a crisis, and ensuring they have read pre-travel information ( both 44%).

View the Travel Risk Map at