Travel to the Forbidden Zone Series – Part 1 of 3: Doing Business in Dangerous Destinations

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics – Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Doing business abroad for many companies is an unavoidable necessity when competing in a global economy.  This Hot Topic series will explore travel to unstable destinations – for business and pleasure.  Our first installment explores issues related to international business travel and safety with John Rendeiro,VP of Global Security and Intelligence, International SOS, the world’s leading international healthcare, medical assistance, and security services company.

John Rendeiro, VP of Global Security, International SOS

John Rendeiro, VP of Global Security, International SOS

Does your organization dispatch employees to dangerous or high-risk areas? It’s likely the answer is “yes.”  According to our recently released Duty of Care and Travel Risk Management Global Benchmarking Study, 95 percent of the more than 600 organizations polled said their business travelers head to locations they consider “high-risk.”

This comprehensive paper released by International SOS surveyed organizations with global operations on a wide range of issues related to international travel, measuring Duty of Care knowledge and best practices. This document is a natural extension of the ground-breaking report that International SOS issued in 2009 on Duty of Care.

In this latest study, HR, travel, security and other corporate decision makers were asked to define how and to what extent their organizations engaged Duty of Care best practices. There were some surprises when it came to the perception of risk and most dangerous countries.

Survey respondents ranked Mexico as the highest risk location when asked to identify the nations where their employees work or travel. India (4),China (8), Russia (14) and Brazil (16) – the opportunity-rich “BRIC” countries – also made this list. Across these markets, lawlessness, terrorism, political upheaval, civil unrest and pandemic illness were identified as among the top risks faced by business travelers and expatriates.

warning sign on stormy sky

Managing Risks when Employees Travel to Dangerous Destinations

For many organizations, working and traveling in high risk locations is mission essential, and a tough global economy means companies are pushed to go further to explore new ventures. When business demands that the company take on some level of travel-related risk, a Duty of Care plan is the best bet for mitigating harm to employees and the organization’s reputation.

Educating and preparing employees to identify and avoid location-specific health and security threats is just one way your company can fulfill its Duty of Care. Other best practices include putting in place policies that limit employee exposure to risk, such as mandating the use of pre-approved ground transportation services, or requiring pre-assignment medical exams prior to departure to remote locales. A good Duty of Care plan brings together security, health, travel, legal and HR perspectives and is integrated throughout an organization’s structure and practices.

We’d love to hear from you how your company protects its travelers. What are some of your best practices? Learn more about Duty of Care on the International SOS blog, Dialogues on Duty of Care, at

Join us for the second installment in our Travel to the Forbidden Zone series where we’ll feature travel to Mexico – named the highest risk destination on International SOS’ Duty of Care survey.  Pablo Weisz, Regional Security Manager, Americas, International SOS, will discuss security in Mexico: Perceived vs. real threats.

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