Biz Travel Horror Stories Inspire Checklist For Travellers

Open Jaw
by Martha Chapman

More and more travel management companies are focusing on “duty of care” – the responsibility corporations must take when they send their employees out to far flung (and not even that far flung) destinations.  This concept includes, for example, knowing where they are at all times, ensuring they adhere to corporate travel policy and how to keep in touch in the event of an emergency.

However, a recent presentation by Mark Lalonde, director of Xpera Risk Mitigation at the Global Business Travel Association’s annual Canadian conference, provided a useful  checklist for corporate travellers themselves.

In a speech peppered with anecdotes about fake prescription pills in Southeast Asia, Brazilian cities shut-down for multi-day festivals and the joys (none) of staying in a Sudanese hotel room that turned out to be a shipping container, Lalonde delivered some great travel tips for corporate travellers. They included:

  • Never use public WiFi (he was adamant about this).
  • Do not work on important business documents on your laptop on an aircraft:  you never know who’s sitting next to you. (A friend of his sat next to a lawyer who was busy working on a severance letter for someone he knew – who had no idea it was coming.)  Ditto with highly confidential business meetings:  don’t hold them in a public place such as a restaurant.
  • Always read the emergency exit card on the back of the hotel room door and practice walking to the exit. A smoke filled hallway will be a very different experience.
  • He also travels with a flashlight for his bedside table, Immodium and prescription pills for something stronger in case it doesn’t kick in – note pills, not a paper prescription; duct tape, a good pocket knife, a cheap phone with at least 2 sim cards. And he has a scanned copy of his passport ID page in his inbox of his G-mail account.
  • Lalonde also recommends that travellers leave scanned copies of their passports and a travel itinerary with several people back at the office.
  • Check ahead of time to see if there are any national holidays on the local calendar when you will likely not be able to conduct business. Check with your local office if there are any threats on the horizon such as strikes or protests.

“When something goes very wrong, invariably it will be on a weekend or at 3 a.m.,” he commented. 24 hour travel agency service is essential. 

Whether that traveller is in Vancouver or Vietnam, he or she may bless you for sharing Lalonde’s wisdom.


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