The Changing World of Global Business Travel

Michael Cadden and I, had the pleasure of speaking at the Forum for Expatriate Management’s (FEM) Detroit Chapter meeting.  The topic was Business Travelers and the growing responsibility this group of “new expat” are for global mobility departments.  We used the FEM “Policy in Practice 2015 Business Travelers” survey and the recently released National Foreign Trade Council survey entitled “Survey Results:  Global Short-term Business Travel.
Here are some of the top survey results:

  • The vast majority of respondents stated it is the line manager or business unit’s responsibility to authorize business travel.
  • Over half of respondents know where all business travelers are at all times. Two-thirds believe their business travelers can be contacted easily in the event of an emergency.
  • Booking business travel is the responsibility of:  the individual traveler (36%), an in-house travel department (27%), or an external travel supplier (26%).
  • When asked how their organization ensures all employees travel on the appropriate visa, there is a fairly even split between having no formal system in place, internal or external checks and placing responsibility on the individual traveler.
  • Over three quarters of organizations have a preferred provider for personal security and/or medical emergency services.  The most commonly mentioned provider is International SOS.
  • 86% believes their organization is exposed to a level of risk in relation to business travel.  48% believe this is a medium to high level of risk.
  • The majority agreed that financial penalties, reputation loss, and business risk are the most significant implications of non-compliance.

The meeting attendees discussed all of these issues. Most agreed that better tracking was a key solution for minimizing risk. Many use travel companies that notify Global Mobility when a ticket is booked, which allows them to check for visa or work permit compliance. Most have had business travelers turned away at borders when asked to state the purpose of their visit.

A few attendees believed that most of the risk and responsibility should fall to the traveling employee. Others felt a company is obliged to prepare a business traveler. Few had a global business visa policy. However, all agreed that the first step is for a company to decide if they are able to, and want to, track their business travelers. Every organization is different, and business needs play a major part in determining what roles and responsibilities Global Mobility must take on.  

 By Cathy Heyne, Managing Director, Living Abroad