Travel Posts (57)
For most Americans, the notion of being kidnapped and held for ransom is nothing more than the plot to a good action movie. For international business travelers, wealthy, or high-profile individuals living and traveling abroad (or individuals perceived as such), however, kidnapping can be a very real threat.
Kidnapping for ransom has historically been a profitable enterprise. As American companies expand their bases of operations and global reach, the number of targets and the number of countries with perceived threats has increased exponentially. According to the United States Department of State, for example, Mexico reported a 300 percent increase in such crimes between 2005 and 2011. Latin America has long been the region with the most reports of kidnapping for ransom, followed by the Asia Pacific region, Africa, and the Middle East—all popular or budding locations for business and recreational travel by American executives.
In addition to identifying the geographical threats, there are many lessons to be learned from prior incidents of kidnapping for ransom. First, by all accounts, the vast majority of kidnaping for ransom incidents (more than 60 percent of reported incidents) end with the captive’s release in exchange for the payment of ransom—approximately $2 million on average. Close to 20 percent are released without payment, with the remainder of victims dying or being killed, being rescued, or, albeit infrequently, escaping. Given the reality that the police in many high-risk countries may also be the kidnappers, many kidnappings go unreported and even fewer have official police involvement.
In response to this unique risk, individuals and entities with a global presence are looking into a specialty line of insurance coverage known as “kidnap and ransom” insurance.
Understanding Kidnap and Ransom Insurance
Kidnap and ransom insurance policies provide coverage for high-profile and high-net worth individuals, executives travelling abroad, and individuals who appear to fit one of those categories. These types of policies then obligate the insurer to pay those costs necessary to secure the safe return of an “insured person” kidnapped in a “covered territory.” These costs include, most notably, the ransom amount paid (up to policy limits) on behalf of the insured person in
exchange for his or her release.
Additionally, depending on the terms of a particular policy, kidnap and ransom coverage can provide indemnity for a variety of other expenses related to the negotiation and delivery of a ransom payment. For instance, at the policyholder’s request, many kidnap and ransom insurers will hire and dispatch experienced security consultants to coordinate the negotiation and payment of the ransom. A number of policies likewise cover the cost of hiring an interpreter, if necessary,
to facilitate negotiations with the kidnapper. Some kidnap and ransom policies also cover payments to “informants” who possess and provide information concerning the whereabouts of the kidnapped individual or the kidnapper’s identity.
Many policies also cover the costs of medical and psychiatric care for the kidnapped individual following his or her release. Kidnap and ransom policies also commonly cover travel expenses incurred by the policyholder to fly the released individual (or his or her relatives) home.
Although kidnap and ransom policies can provide broad coverage for the various
expenses associated with negotiating and delivering a ransom, these policies generally contain
various exclusions as well. Some policies bar coverage for kidnappings that take place in certain
excluded geographical regions. Others purport to exclude coverage for kidnappings planned or
facilitated by a relative or employee of the policyholder.
Common Policy Conditions
Kidnap and ransom policies also typically include a number of policy conditions, some of which can impact coverage in significant ways. Because policyholders with kidnap and ransom coverage could be attractive targets for kidnap plots if the existence of the insurance was known, many policies contain confidentiality clauses prohibiting the insured from discussing the coverage with third parties. Breach of these confidentiality provisions can result in a forfeiture of Policyholders should also expect to see certain notice-related provisions in their kidnap and ransom policies. In particular, kidnap and ransom policies commonly require the policyholder to immediately notify the insurer and local law enforcement agencies of a
kidnapping. Failure to provide prompt notice of a kidnapping can, depending on the particular policy language at issue, jeopardize coverage.
Purchasing the Right Policy
Because the scope of coverage can vary widely from policy to policy, it is important that policyholders carefully evaluate their coverage needs prior to purchasing kidnap and ransom insurance. Indeed, by keeping a few tips in mind, policyholders can avoid many typical coverage disputes and ensure that they purchase policies that suit their particular needs.
For one, when purchasing a kidnap and ransom policy, the policyholder should pay close attention to who is insured under the policy. Insured executives may also want to purchase coverage for their relatives, friends, or employees. A good rule of thumb is to purchase a policy that covers each individual for whom the policyholder would pay a ransom in the event of his or her kidnapping.
Furthermore, policyholders should make sure that their policies provide coverage in the desired geographical regions. Some policies provide worldwide coverage, whereas others exclude coverage for kidnappings taking place in certain specified geographic regions. Therefore, when purchasing a kidnap and ransom policy, policyholders should take stock of their coverage needs and select a policy that provides the desired scope of coverage.
Policyholders should also carefully consider the practical consequences of policies with stringent notice requirements. Many kidnap and ransom policies purport to void coverage if the policyholder fails to immediately provide notice of a kidnapping to both the insurer and local law enforcement agencies. Such provisions may seem relatively uncontroversial, but they can
prove problematic in instances where the kidnapper forbids the policyholder from notifying local police or other authorities. To avoid coverage disputes over the enforceability of such notice-related terms, policyholders should attempt to negotiate more favorable provisions. For instance, policies that only require immediate notice “where practicable” can give policyholders much-needed flexibility when responding to a kidnapping.
Finally, prior to purchasing kidnap and ransom coverage, policyholders should closely review all policy exclusions and other limiting terms. In some instances, policyholders may be able to negotiate more favorable terms, often without any significant increase in premium. For example, the policyholder should take into account the quality and experience of the response team or security consultants hired by and paid for by the insurer.
With the continued globalization of business and business-related travel, more executives are contemplating the purchase of kidnap and ransom coverage. Although this coverage can be a valuable asset to those living and traveling in foreign countries, policyholders must make sure that they purchase policies that meet their precise coverage needs. Then, once a policyholder settles on a particular policy, the policyholder should carefully review all terms and conditions of the policy.
While one can never be completely prepared for a kidnapping, having the right policy in place—and understanding how it works—can provide peace of mind for those individuals living and traveling abroad in high-risk regions.
"Duty of care” is the new buzzword across the travel risk management industry, as corporate travel managers increasingly recognize their central role and responsibility in creating a strong, balanced business travel policy that protects their employees.
Though duty of care has existed in common law for a long time, the application of duty of care laws to the corporate travel community is a relatively new trend. The laws hold that it is the obligation of a company to maintain reasonable care of its employee during the course and scope of his or her business travel. In the corporate travel sector, duty of care extends to the safety and security of a company’s mobile employees.
In days past, bottom-line cost was the main business driver behind the implementation of a travel policy. Cost control, not traveler security, was paramount. It was common to hear corporate travel managers ask, what is the expense in booking tickets from a non-preferred vendor? What is allowable in terms of hotel stays?However, as economic growth has spurred travel to emerging markets and unfamiliar places, the rules of the game are changing. Safety has now become just as powerful a driver as cost.
This policy shift has prompted travel managers to ask questions in a different way. For example, what is the danger in reserving a car for my employee with a non-preferred rental car company? Are rental cars that are used well-maintained and up to date? How safe is it for my employee to stay in a hotel that has not been vetted? What is the hotel’s security policy? Clearly, the language surrounding travel expectations is changing to reflect a growing desire to mitigate threats and lower costs, but also to protect a company’s greatest assets – its people.
Duty Of Care 101
In most cases, duty of care implies that the employer is legally liable if an employee travels for business and needs any kind of intervention or assistance. “A responsive travel policy that strongly emphasizes duty of care has several layers,” states Bruce McIndoe, CEO of iJET, an intelligence driven provider of operational risk management solutions headquartered in Annapolis, MD. “These layers address the financial protection of the company, an integrated risk management component that emphasizes prevention, and the clear communication of norms and expectations regarding travel for employees.”
The United Kingdom sparked international interest in duty of care when it passed the Corporate Manslaughter Act in 2007. The law establishes significant consequences for companies who intentionally or unintentionally put their employees in harm’s way without taking sufficient precautions. The sub-phrase, “without taking sufficient precautions,” is key. “In a court case, it is not enough for a company to plead ignorance – and it is this ‘should have known’ theme that drives the need for corporations to establish relationships with the corporate intelligence community,” according to Stephen Barth, founder of HospitalityLawyer.com in Houston,TX. HospitalityLawyer.com brings together legal, safety, security information, resources and solutions especially designed for the travel, tourism and hospitality industries. “Furthermore, many corporations wrongly believe they are ‘covered’ under workers compensation laws, not realizing the limitations of such laws in wrongful death situations or in damage limitations,” he continues.
The Language Of Liability
There is no doubt that in addition to cost and safety, liability is a major concern behind duty of care policy. A recent online article entitled “Corporate Travel Safety” describes the work of Dr. Lisbeth Claus, who is a professor of human resources at Willamette University and author of the Duty of Care and Travel Risk Management Global Benchmarking Study. Claus’ research found that of the 39 cases she reviewed “in which an employer was sued by an employee (or his survivors) over failure to provide duty of care, the employers lost 34.”
Liability issues often spur travel managers to think about how to frame duty of care. For example, suppose a business traveler in Sao Paulo needs cash immediately and goes to his nearest public ATM. While withdrawing money, he is robbed at gunpoint by masked men. If the traveler has not been clearly informed by company policy that a particular activity (in this 33 Business Travel Executive FEBRUARY 2013 case, the use of public ATM’s) is considered risky, and is discouraged or unacceptable, then the company has breached its duty of care to its employee. Had the traveler known not to use public ATM’s in Sao Paulo, he would have obtained cash in another way and not become a target for armed gunmen.
This is also known as the “duty to inform” – “a person engaged in a special and potentially dangerous activity must know or inquire of possible hazards or of any special duties and responsibilities inherent in that activity that might affect their ability to exercise reasonable prudent caution.” Thus, a travel manager must inform an employee of what is expected regarding actions to be taken (such as immunizations), potential hazards (e.g. diseases, armed robbery), and any prohibitions (such as using public ATM’s). Ideally, the employer would communicate areas where the employee must take responsibility.
To explain this further, iJET’s McIndoe offers the following real-world example: “In one instance, an employee, while on a business trip to Vietnam, went on a white water rafting trip. The trip was on a weekend, tacked on after the business workweek. During the rafting expedition the employee was injured, hospitalized and had to be flown back to the US on a commercial airliner, with costs totaling $22,000. The employee sued his company citing that he was never informed of the fact that his company policy did not cover him after formal business hours. Had he known, he would have taken out a personal insurance policy that covered him throughout the entire trip.”
Another principle revolves around the duty to warn, which is less broad than the duty to inform. “Duty to warn” indicates that “a party will be held liable for injuries caused to another, where the party had the opportunity to warn the other of a hazard and failed to do so.” Since the language of liability can get complicated, it may be wise for companies to consult with risk management providers such as iJET or seek legal counsel beforehand.
Plan, Protect And Respond
In a world of competing interests, strained budgets and constant demands on time, how do companies meet their duty of care obligations? First, they can look to existing laws. They can also seek out similarly situated businesses and evaluate what their standard of care is. “In the travel industry, we have begun to set benchmarks and best practices for what a reasonable prudent business, university or NGO would establish in regards to duty of care in their travel policies,” explains Barth. “For example, do these policies promote awareness, education and training? Are they pro-active or re-active in nature? Are they spending dollars just on insurance, or on any kind of prevention programs?”
There are three levels of creating a duty of care travel policy:
• planning a policy that is specific to your
company’s and travelers’ needs.
• protection clauses in the policy that
inform, warn, track and/or protect
• response clauses including evacuation or
other insurance services.
Planning is the first stage where corporate intelligence companies and comprehensive risk management providers can tailor a policy to suit a company’s size, scope and travel demands.
Protection clauses must then be analyzed to see what levels of services are appropriate. For example, is it enough for your employee to take a local taxi from the airport to the hotel? Or would it be more prudent for a vetted car service to pick up the passenger and drive to a (vetted) hotel? Are medical checkups required upon return from a foreign country? Other protective clauses such as “do not drink the local water in the city” or “only use bottled water” go a long way toward saving hours of lost productivity that would result from employees falling ill.
According to Barth, it is also reasonable to suggest general best practices for employees while traveling during the course of business, such as not wearing flashy jewelry which may warrant unwanted attention, or not to go out into certain sectors of the city at night time. Other specific best practices depend entirely on the threat level of the destination. In certain cities where crime is high, it may be recommended that employees going to dinner only venture out in groups of two or more. Or that they limit themselves to specific restaurants that have been vetted for food quality.
Response clauses define what measures are reasonable for a company to take on behalf of its employees to keep them safe. This includes a rapid response/evacuation plan that can react swiftly to an emergency. Other options are a comprehensive medical plan, an extraction policy, or a kidnap and ransom policy.
“Also, an employer may want to include traveler tracking as part of its response plan,” McIndoe says. Traveler tracking was highly successful during recent events such as the civil unrest that erupted during the Arab Spring, or the earthquake and subsequent nuclear fallout in Japan. “We recommend tracking for all travel, because a disruption can occur at any time…for example, a plane crash into the Hudson River in New York City or the bridge collapse in Minneapolis,” continues McIndoe. “How will you find and communicate to your travelers during these moments of crisis?”
Travel Ahead Of The Curve
In today’s fast-paced environment as corporations expand across an increasingly unpredictable planet, the workplace is not confined to one location anymore. Workforces and offices are mobile and travel is a necessary tool to get the job done. As language shifts in the industry to better capture a company’s travel needs, herein lies a golden opportunity for travel managers to incorporate strong duty of care policies and procedures intended to safeguard employees during the course of business travel.
At the end of the day, enforcing suggested duty of care best practices becomes imperative. Often times, corporate travel managers are faced with tough questions such as, “Is non-compliance punishable? If so, are employees who depart from company policy required to pay out-of-pocket for their non-compliance?”
Some travel programs encourage the creation of a “duty of loyalty” culture which rewards business travelers for booking through preferred vendors or avoiding potentially risky behavior during their business trip. Others advocate developing internal programming such as workshops, events and classes that teach the benefits of compliance with duty of care policies. This awareness and educational component empowers employees with the necessary knowledge required to manage travel expectations, and puts responsible decision - making back in their hands.
With lodgings, you look forward to a clean, safe guestroom. In our restaurants you want sufficiently prepared food, served in a timely manner, and hopefully what you ordered. In the tourism segment, you have promoted a vision. In the travel arena you have presented means to get from point “A” to “B”. Of course, we all operate under the aphorism, “To err is human, to forgive divine!” We have made a promise, and we must deliver, rather than plead ignorance and beg for that forgiveness too frequently. Eventually, our customers and guests would migrate elsewhere. Mea Culpa is not a banner we wish to fly.
But, speaking of the airwaves, it appears that our partners up in the blue yonder have a very active groundswell of disgruntled passengers. Although my last flight with Jet Blue was wonderful, coast to coast and back, we all know someone or have experienced ourselves a drop in service and courtesy (but not price) with the airlines. With more and more mergers, we have bigger entities which can pretty much do what they want. As mergers cost money, let’s start recouping our investment, maybe charge extra for that aisle seat, certainly eliminate the peanuts, price out that extra baggage, etc. Some airlines, like United, have always stressed service and attention to the passenger; once upon a time, they even educated hoteliers, like at WESTIN, on Customer Service techniques. Others emphasize just the low price of travel – start that cattle call.
Dissatisfaction with the flying experience has resulted in a passenger group, FlyersRights.org, advocating a “Passenger’s Bill of Rights”. The president of this group, Paul Hudson, wants the government to review the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 and “…correct the consumer abuses, unfair or deceptive practices and inefficiencies that have infested and degraded the nation's air transportation system". That could be a tall order, but the group has also highlighted some demands:
THE RIGHT to a ticket we can understand and rely on, with no hidden fees, at a fair price.
THE RIGHT to be treated well when our flight is canceled or delayed, with reasonable access to available flights on other airlines and advance notice, a refund and compensation when it's the airline's fault.
THE RIGHT to airline honesty when it comes to the status of our flights and the reasons for delays and cancellations.
THE RIGHT to a safe aircraft and a well-trained, well-rested crew.
THE RIGHT to get off the tarmac within three hours at the most.
THE RIGHT to have our luggage arrive when we do - or to compensation if it doesn't.
THE RIGHT to be treated like human beings onboard aircraft, with food and drink and seats and legroom that are safe and comfortable.
THE RIGHT to retain basic constitutional rights of privacy, free speech, travel, due process of law, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure when we enter an airport or board an aircraft.
In the airline business, when you err, it can be pretty significant. But, looking at this above list, some of these “Rights” appear to be basic to the business – such as safe aircraft, treated like human beings, honesty of the flight schedule and the like. Few of us would disagree with these assertions. If the airlines did not meet these basic expectations, everyone would walk or drive. So, the full list is maybe ideal, but the point is certainly made. There is some work to be done in the terminal and in the air, particularly if you remember airlines like Allegheny.
We spoke to the people at Fly.co.uk about what really irritates passengers when they travel by air. A little thought for your fellow travellers can go a long way so here are 7 top tips on how not to irritate them when flying. Of course, there are lots more – feel free to post a comment at the end if you’d like to add your own. Read more on "A Luxury Travel Blog."
Hotel spend represents between 30 and 50 percent of a company’s total travel spend but in contrast to air spend, it is often left unmanaged. Corporate travel buyers need to focus greater attention on this complex, inﬂationary spend category to optimize their overall travel program. Unlike the approximately 250 IATA (International Air Transport Association) companies that constitute the global airline industry, the corporate hotel market is fragmented with more than 250,000 suppliers, creating an elaborate sourcing environment for travel buyers. Establishing and closely monitoring a hotel program that travelers adhere to provides greater leverage for negotiations and drives savings. Discouraging the use of distribution channels outside of the travel management company (i.e., hotels’ proprietary reservation systems and Websites, Web booking sites) is an important step to enhancing compliance, capturing hotel spend, obtaining better rates and improving traveler tracking in the event of an emergency.
Occupancy rates and prices should maintain ationary spiral across all segments, as demand is expected to exceed supply until 2010. At that time, additional hotel rooms will be available, particularly in emerging markets. ” markets such as New York; Washington, D.C.; and London, as well as Moscow, India, China and several cities in Asia that are experiencing double-digit price increases. Those corporations that have a hotel policy in place stand the greatest chance of minimizing the impact of rising hotel costs.
The hotel industry has introduced various rate structures, often favoring a dynamic pricing model(i.e., the best available rate as determined by supply and demand) over the traditional rates negotiated by travel management companies and/or their clients. Best available rates can sometimes be lower than negotiated rates and should be taken advantage of when appropriate. Nevertheless, it xed rates to set a limit on prices in key locations. This will help maximize control over hotel spend during peak demand periods. When this is not possible cient volume, negotiating a xed discount on the best available rate is recommended.
CWT statistics indicate that on average, only 50 percent of hotel bookings are made through an organization’s online booking tool or travel management company. This means a signiﬁcant portion of all bookings are not leveraged during supplier negotiations. Furthermore, non-compliance with the hotel program increases by 15 percent when bookings are made through alternative channels. Traveler tracking and security are also compromised when hotel bookings are made outside of prescribed channels.
Companies who are successfully managing their hotel program tend to adhere to the following best practices:
• Consolidate data for optimized hotel sourcing.Consolidating global hotel data from travel management companies, corporate card providers and hotel suppliers is the ﬁrst step to assessing overall volume and improving negotiating power.
• Carefully orchestrate negotiations with a limited number of suppliers. For best results, companies should coordinate a request for proposal process with hotel chains and independent properties alike. Building strong local relationships with chains and independents is essential for negotiations, as most pricing decisions depend on the number of room nights booked annually at each individual property (including chain hotels). This is in stark contrast to airlines, whose discounts are based on overall volumes. It is also important to remember that working with a limited number of suppliers in each city results in greater volume per property and larger discounts. According to a CWT survey, consolidation of hotel sourcing allows companies to save on average 6.5 percent and up to 12 percent after one year.
• Monitor negotiated fare-loading in GDSs (global distribution systems). There is an increasing incidence of GDS “rate squatting” that compromises compliance and savings. This occurs whenever a hotel uploads rates before it actually signs an agreement with a company or after a contract has expired. There are several ways to address this problem: conductregular hotelrate audits to ensure that preferred properties have correctly loaded their clients’ negotiated rates into a GDS, integrate clear GDS rate-loading instructions in the requests for proposal, reinforce travelers’ awareness of the preferred hotel program, and integrate a ﬁltering capability into the online booking tool.
• Have travelers book hotels through the corporate online booking tool or the travel management company for increased compliance, enhanced security and the best price. According to CWT research, travelers cite practicality (i.e., a hotel’s proximity to their business destination), availability and the ability to obtain better prices elsewhere—a misperception, as indicated in Figure 6—as their main reasons for booking outside of their travel policy. Furthermore, they bypass preferred booking channels and tend to make reservations with the hotel directly. CWT data also indicates that travelers use preferred suppliers more often and are less likely to use deluxe hotels when they book through the travel management company. In addition, they are more eﬀectively tracked in the event of an emergency. There are several ways to address non-compliant behavior: internal communications and training about the travel policy, targeted actions toward non-compliant travelers, non-reimbursement, automatic routing to hotel content when an air booking with an overnight stay is made online, and redirection at the point of sale.
• Adjust the preferred hotel program to increase traveler compliance. Unusually low compliance with preferred hotels may imply that travelers’ needs are not being adequately met and that corrective action is needed. Key factors to consider include the range of cities covered, the convenience of locations, and the scope and quality of traveler services.
When entering the world of private flying it’s important to fully appreciate all of your options and to know precisely which one will benefit you the most. Making a choice between the various forms of private flying can be difficult, and sometimes it helps to think about your options as you would when ordering at a restaurant. Whether choosing how to fly privately or how to dine out, understanding the available selections and factoring in your specific budget and taste are paramount.
For your consideration, here are the main forms of private flight:
Ad hoc charter
Ad hoc charter is one of the most flexible methods of flying privately. Essentially it’s air charter “on demand”- you choose your desired aircraft, flight route, and desired date. Once a booking is scheduled, prices and availability are guaranteed and all is taken care of in a single payment. Ad hoc charter is like buying a la carte. Imagine the waiter is your broker and the menu lists your charter options- you order what you like and they take care of the rest. All you need to do is pay the bill.
Read more on "A Luxury Travel Blog."
Dr. Livingstone cut his way across the jungles of Africa with little more than a shotgun and a shaving kit. You probably ought not to try and sneak a rifle through the airport, but here are some more modern gadgets that will come in handy for a boys’ adventure. If you have ay other ideas that could have been contenders for the list, please let us know in the comments at the end.
External hard drive
Taking loads of pictures? Working on the road? Be sure to take a high quality external hard drive. Especially if you’re carrying around a laptop or other valuable items, it pays to save all your important stuff in something less appealing and less likely to get nicked. The LaCie All-Terrain ones are good and fantastically practical thanks to its thick rubber edging.
Read more on "A Luxury Travel Blog."
AirlineRatings.com the world's only safety and product rating website has announced its top ten safest airlines for 2013 from the 448 it monitors.
Top of the list is Qantas which has a fatality free record in the jet era (since 1951). Making up the top ten with seven stars for safety and in- flight product are in alphabetical order: Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Eva Air, Royal Jordanian, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.
AirlineRatings.com's rating system takes into account a number of different factors related to audits from aviation's governing bodies and lead associations as well as government audits and the airline's fatality record.
Of the 448 airlines surveyed 137 have the top seven-star safety ranking, but almost 50 have just three stars or less.
Over its 93-year history Qantas has amassed an extraordinary record of firsts in safety and operations. In 2008 in its successful defense, to the British Advertising Standards Association, of its claim that it is the world's most experienced airline, Qantas was able to list almost 30 notable industry leading achievements.
These included the war time operation from Perth, Australia of what was then, and still is, the world's longest air route by elapsed time from Perth to Colombo, Sir Lanka giving passengers an award dubbed "The Order of the Double Sunrise."
This service, using Catalina Flying Boats, took about 28 hours non-stop and was performed in radio silence to avoid the Japanese. When the flights ended on July 18, 1945, the aircraft had made 271 crossings and had carried 858 passengers more than one million miles without a single accident.
According to AirlineRatings.com editor, Geoffrey Thomas, Qantas has been - and still is - a leader in the introduction of a host of technologies for the cockpit.
"There is no question that Qantas stands alone in its safety achievements and is an industry benchmark for best practice," said Mr Thomas.
However while Qantas led the way, a number of airlines still only achieve one and two stars for safety on AirlineRatings.com. These include with one-star: Kam Air, Scat and Bluewing Airlines; and two-stars: Afghan Airways, Daallo Airlines, Eritrean Airlines, Lion Air, Merpati Airlines, Susi Air and Air Bagan.
Cruise tourism is a globalized phenomenon that experts and tourism scholars have studied from multiple perspectives. A general overview is needed to expand the current understanding of cruises in our modern societies. As the industry has grown so too has the scientific interest in it. Sociologically speaking, one of the aspects that historically characterized this form of tourism has been isolation; travelers seek cruise-tourism as a mechanism of escapement. The lack of commitment of cruise-tourism consumers to local economies and habits produces troubling points, discussed in specialized literature. Cruise-tourism specialists have evaluated the industry in terms of its impact on local economies. From 90s decade onwards, the concern for economic multipliers and economic impacts set the pace regarding the question of sustainability. From this viewpoint, cruise shipping helps communities to preserve their natural resources. Ecological destinations such as Antarctica and Australia have been offered to provide international demand of ecological consciousness.
However, in the last years, to be more exact after the attacks on New York’s World Trade Center, cruise related tourism has been seen as one of the safest ways to experience foreign travel. The current period has been challenging to the tourism industry. From virus outbreaks to terrorism, the onset of this new millennium produced many problems for the tourism industry. Under such a context, many policy makers insisted on the need to improve the sense of safety at tourist destinations. The intervention of national governments, in this process, was of paramount importance by identifying and tracing those elements that jeopardize the societal order. Starting from the premise that cruise consumption mirrors the feeling and political contexts of societies, this conceptual review essay emphasizes on cruises as modern dispositive where travelers are protected.
Security has been commoditized and is offered as a product. Cruises combine not only aspects of security and curiosity, but also represent a valid alternative to integrate hospitality and mobilities, but unless otherwise resolved, cruise tourism in case of accidents may become a trap. From Titanic to Costa Concordia the degree of vulnerability of passengers may actually be higher in cruises than other means of transport (first and foremost whenever a strange virus surfaces and expands rapidly on board) (Miller et al, 2000; Lois et al, 2004). This paper provides readers with an all-encompassing view of risk and practical suggestions to be followed to mitigate the risk on the high seas. Particularly, the question of technological mobility engenders new threats to be seriously re-considered. Safety related studies of cruises seem to be in their infancy. To fill this academic gap in the literature this review examines not only the historical roots of mega-cruise accidents, but also the conceptual discussion of risk re-production in sociology.
As travel professionals working in the aftermath of 9/11, the 2004 Madrid train bombings, and the July 2005 London underground bombings, our reality includes helping to ensure the safety and security of travelers in a world full of tsunamis, nuclear threats and SARS. In fact, the responsibility has evolved and expanded over the years providing a myriad of challenges to companies, travel managers, travelers and data privacy advocates. Unfortunately, the geo-political globally traveled world we live in has evolved as well, providing further challenges for everyone. Alongside these conditions, we must be ever mindful of that omnipresent figure representing oppressive control and insight – Big Brother.
So what are some of the challenges, and how do we overcome them? Of critical importance to everyone is data integrity and security. We are all aware of the constant assault on security from password hacking to identity theft. Travel data includes many aspects of critical information; therefore it deserves to be protected with as much diligence as possible. From governmental regulations on data privacy to corporate regulations on data transfer, we must be vigilant and educated on current processes to help protect our travelers’ data. Do we need to be IT specialists? No, however; we must embrace and understand the requirements put forth in the current marketplace through conversation and partnership with our IT departments and privacy officers to ensure our mutual success. Staying abreast of laws such as HIPAA, the UK Data Protection Act of 1998, the EU’s Data Protection Directive, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and others will help ensure the travel professionals seat at the table when representing the needs to share and communicate data to help protect travelers while ensuring the sanctity of their constituents privacy
Travelers must also be educated to take responsibility for their own safety and security. The anecdote that you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make them drink is appropriate in that travelers are often provided information that is disregarded…until it’s needed. As travel leaders, we all know that despite the warnings and notices placed on itineraries at the request of our corporations, it is rare that they are read by travelers. Vital, critical information that is shared must be acknowledged by travelers to help ensure their own safety & security, as well as ensuring compliance and demonstrating duty of care for the company providing the data. Thus, the industry is evolving towards the “yes, I have read and agree to this information” tick boxes to support acknowledgement. Yet again, in the back of our mind, we hear the other side of the coin spinning to state …how many times do people actually read the “agreement” terms when installing new software, updates and more?! Again, it’s not the intent of travel professionals tasked with safety and security needs to infringe but rather to inform!
So is it the fault of the traveler that they, like everyone, are inundated with email, texts, updates, etc.? It’s truly an evolution that is occurring as we speak. Travel professionals can now hone content and provide data that is far more appropriate to the travelers’ trip than in the past. Is the traveler still on the hook? Absolutely! The message that content is important to their position as a traveler in the organization must be consistently communicated and enforced as part of an overall travel management strategy. The travel professionals voice and want is not exclusive, but rather must echo and include voices from human resources, IT, risk management and of course, senior leadership.
As the industry evolves, we will continue to be bombarded with the “big brother versus safety” conversation especially in light of dialogue surrounding items such as GPS location technology, data sharing with third parties, cloud server storage security, and other critical privacy data points. Travel professionals and industry experts need to ensure they are working diligently to provide accurate, timely, protected, and cogent data to a more educated and erudite traveler to help dispel the fear that an individual's privacy is being impacted in a negative manner through effectively managed traveler safety and security programs. In times of need, a big brother can indeed be an ally!