A recent study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reveals that, “The individuals who are travelling the most have the worst depression symptoms, the worst anxiety symptoms.”
Despite this, the rise of business trips abroad shows no sign of abating. Reports from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) predict that business travel spend is set to increase to $1.7 trillion by 2022. Travelport and the World Travel and Tourism Council claim that emerging markets like Azerbaijan, Qatar and Mozambique are helping to drive this spend. And India is expected to reach the global top 5 destinations by 2022 (GBTA).
No quick fix
Don’t expect instant solutions. Travel intelligence platform Skift says, “There’s no single cure or quick fix for solving the anxiety that travellers feel, but without a serious effort from stakeholders and travellers themselves, it will only become more deeply entrenched.”
One answer may come from psychologist Michel Dugas, who wrote in the New York Times recently, “What might make human beings less anxious, is having a firmer sense of what in the world is happening and what’s likely to happen next.”
Transfer this thinking to the corporate travel sector and the obvious answer is to combine reactive emergency responses with proactive support; before, during and after assignments overseas.
This means anticipating a wide range of worries; not just carrying out pre-travel risk assessments, but also educating travelling staff about everything from preventing infectious diseases and road traffic accidents, to avoiding cultural gaffes and reacting to terrorist attacks. Not just ensuring staff know how to access local medical care, but also that their individual medical needs (and their families’) are known and met. And if the right care isn’t easily accessible - as it may not be in a remote destination - that realistic expectations are set, and contingency plans made.
Getting the communication right
Communication is the glue when it comes to uniting these components and allaying traveller worries.
This doesn’t mean exposing employees to a 24/7 barrage of (potentially anxiety-inducing) information. Rather, it calls for selective fact-sharing via a combination of online alerts, accessible training platforms, human interaction, emergency SOS functions and more.
Within this mix, mobile connectivity can ensure that employees abroad are able to access medical and security advice and responses, wherever they are - and that they feel employers are really looking out for them.
Above all, expect anxiety at every turn: according to the GBTA, around half of corporate travellers now think that any destination could be high-risk. And be ready to mitigate the worries.
Written by Chris Knight, head of corporate services for Charles Taylor Assistance. Charles Taylor Assistance and security specialists Solace Global will be exhibiting Intrinsic Assistance, the integrated medical and security risk management and assistance solution at the Business Travel Show, Stand B340. Register here https://bit.ly/2Uk9JoB
*Charles Taylor Assistance is a brand style for CEGA Group, a Charles Taylor company