08 July 2004
Travel managers should not rely on Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel advisories to determine security risks for their executives, according to a crisis management specialist.
Isabelle Claes, a consultant with Control Risks Group, warned delegates to the Corporate Travel and Expense Management Forum that Foreign Office advisories failed to adequately measure the risks for different travellers.
"Their inherent weakness is that they give blanket advice," she said. "It's all pitched at the same level whether it's for a gap-year student or a top executive."
Claes urged travel managers to adopt a security policy and seek consultancy advice if they were unsure how to set one up.
The task for a security policy was to be able to balance the commercial imperative for travel against the real or imagined threat to travellers' security.
A security policy is an integral part of corporate responsibility, she added. An organisation's liability for the safety of its employees meant companies should institute regular travel briefings to highlight destination-specific problems.
John Melchior, who takes up to four flights a week in his role as executive vice-president of travel management consortium Radius, warned that travel managers focused on airport and airline security at the expense of other areas, such as hotel security.
"A terrorist can simply check into a hotel with two suitcases and then leave the building," he pointed out.
Albert Stimson, European chief of security with Saudi Arabian Airlines, said long airport security checks that extended employees' costly down-time were here to stay.