Corporate travel managers have long had their hands full dealing with political unrest, terrorism and severe weather around the world. But now, they are contending with new complications — issues like security at border crossings and the legalities of data searches of electronic devices at airports.
They are holding conferences and seminars, like the Global Travel Risk Summit on Tuesday in New York, to discuss the new concerns about global travel.
"In the last six months, it's gone from a simmer to a boil," said Evan Konwiser, a vice president at American Express Global Business Travel, who moderated a session at a recent Association of Corporate Travel Executives conference in New York on how to support and protect business travelers.
What, he asked the group, are travel managers at companies doing to adapt their programs? "Are they doing it quickly enough? Smart enough?" he asked.
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One panelist, Julia Fidler, who manages travel for Microsoft, said, "We're definitely seeing more requests from travelers who ask, 'Tell me what to do; who do I go to to ask?'"
She added, "They still want to talk to somebody, know what number to dial, and if there will be somebody there to assist them."
A recent study by the association on how current geopolitical issues are affecting travel found that of the 239 corporate travel managers surveyed, 56 percent said they had seen an increase in reports of heightened personal safety concerns in late 2016 and early this year. And 54 percent said travelers had expressed new or growing concerns about how possible changes in visa requirements and immigration policies could affect travel to and from the United States.
"The pace of change is faster now than ever before and reaching to more regions not traditionally considered high risk," Greeley Koch, executive director at the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, said in an interview. "And we are starting to see the direct impact on the security and well-being of the traveler." His group worked with American Express Global Business Travel on the survey.