Guest blog: ‘The travel manager is on an island’

Once in a while, we are happy to publish a guest blog that we find informative and useful for our readers. This time we are pleased to introduce Martin Wijlens from Safeture.

The travel manager is on an island

In my daily routine, I talk to many travel managers in the industry. What I often notice is that talking about travel (risk) management often means looking at it primarily from the travel perspective. In that case, of course, the focus is on the frequent travelers, the “sky nomads”, the “air warriors” or whatever name you want to give to those who travel regularly for their business.

Because I focus primarily on the technology side of things, I find that many companies opt for a (white label) travel solution that focuses primarily on the business trip itself and everything related to the flight, hotel, rental car, expenses and claims. For just those parts, the travel manager within an organization can usually handle everything himself. That’s what I mean by the travel manager is on an island. When the topic shifts to a broader business perspective, the travel manager suddenly realizes that travel and specifically employee safety is no longer an island these days. From a security perspective, the issue must be viewed from a much broader perspective that suddenly includes a wider range of cross-functional departments within (multinational) organizations.

Not seeing the forest for the trees

There are many (technology) companies looking to jump on the wings of the frequent traveler. As a result, many travel managers don’t know which technology platform to choose because most solution providers cover many things that are primarily travel-related but almost never the complete puzzle that has to do with international mobility or even the entire mobility within an organization. Often they are overwhelmed by so many providers and can’t see the forest for the trees. An often heard response is that they want one app and not many…

Employee safety

These times of Corona have unfortunately brought us many negative things, a pretty big financial impact on our business and moreover on our daily routines. What it also taught us is that travel and mobility in general are not just about frequent travelers. Worker safety is much broader than that.

Bridge Builders Needed

When the subject of Duty of Care is viewed from the perspective of safety for all employees, I notice that the subject suddenly has to build bridges between departments. Then suddenly just a travel management app or platform is not (anymore) enough. Suddenly, Risk and Security departments are consulted for this topic because their knowledge and experience regarding employee safety suddenly becomes important. A Duty of Care project is therefore a great bridge builder between departments that need to be aligned. This is necessary because suddenly it is not just about travel (risk) management. The topic also includes the “Out of Office” (home) workers, the frequent national reziers, and the workers who work hard every day in the same plant to which they commute every day. Something can happen to all of these colleagues. Caring for all these groups of employees then becomes a company-wide issue. Can you communicate with all of them when they are in need?

The duty of care means that suddenly several departments within an organization are involved such as travel management, Safety & Security, HRM, Procurement, Facility (Risk) management. I have found that other topics in the past, such as Enterprise Security Risk Management (ESRM) and also the Information Security topic, have caused similar cross-departmental bridge building.

ISO 31030

I am convinced that the assessment of the ISO 31030 standard for travel risk management will have a similar effect. One of the cornerstones of this ISO 31030 is that it must be backed by top management and fully implemented and supported by key stakeholders within organizations. Just travel management, just security and safety awareness or just looking at the well-being of your colleagues is no longer enough. Based on this ISO 31030 guideline, all departments should be on the same page. If possible, both information, location and communication related to Duty of Care should be centralized and available to the entire organization. Today’s technology is ready to support this and should be embraced.

In my opinion, vendors and organizations that are able to embrace new technologies, are open to collaboration and choose independence will be ready for the future.

The (temporary) travel lull

I notice daily that travel managers are not open to new ways of looking at the topic of employee safety because there is little travel at the moment. On the one hand, I can completely understand this. But on the other hand, this is the ultimate time to look in the Duty of Care mirror. When you look in that mirror, you can ask yourself the following important questions:

– As an organization, are you fully satisfied how the ISO 31030 requirements are allocated within your organization?

– Are you (still) completely satisfied with your travel risk management and medical assistance provider?

– Does your current provider still meet your Duty of Care needs given today’s new technological capabilities?

I have noticed that a smaller group of companies are currently seizing the moment to examine the ISO 31030 travel risk management requirements while (international) travel is still quiet at the moment.

Which group does your company belong to?

  1. The organization quietly waiting in the travel lull
  2. The inquisitive bridge builder

Stay healthy!

Martin Wijlens on behalf of Safeture.

(Safeture® is a complete cloud-based service managing risk, safety and crisis processes involving employees)


Martin Wijlens, Senior Sales Manager Safeture AB

Board member of the Dutch Association for Travel Management (NATM)


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This article is written by

Tijn Kramer