Wherever you travel, chances are that eventualities might pop up at any point. Sometimes an emergency may strike when driving from the airport to the hotel. Other times, it could be when sightseeing or on the way to a corporate meeting. For this purpose, we explore what is travel risk management and how it helps increase protection on the ground.
But before that, why is it the case that things will invariably go wrong if they can go wrong? For this, we have to blame the law of entropy. The rule suggests that the degree of disorder — or entropy — only increases with time or stays the same.
This predicament seems particularly relevant to the security sector. As a matter of fact, it should inform how protectors do their work in ensuring a safe and secure environment for:
- Ultra-high-net-worth individuals,
- Very important persons (VIPs),
- Chief executive officers (CEOs), and others.
In other words, protective staff must implement precautionary and preventative measures without expecting things to regulate themselves.
In 99% of cases, the protector's ability to think and solve problems on the go will get both the EP team and the principal a long way.
On the other side of the coin, the security professional's hard skills make an enormous difference in dangerous, evolving situations. Still, in most environments, they will use their soft skills to facilitate the mission objectives.
But what precedes such considerations?
Firstly, regardless of the amount of preparation or planning, no one can know everything about a location. Yet, an experienced executive protection team vastly reduces the possibility of unexpected events by conducting a threat and vulnerability assessment (TVA).
To make it more tangible, let us explore what is travel risk management in day-to-day business abroad.
Local Partners in Ground Operations Abroad
Suppose a group of executives travels to Africa. Usually, their CSO will engage a local provider or sub-contractor to offer private transportation. Typically, the provision of assistance in the destination country ends at this level.
Similarly, there is an expectation for the foreign executive protection team to take care of the minutiae and handle all aspects of security. At the same time, local support needs only take care of getting the principals from one location to the next. Expectedly, this approach is riddled with flaws. In fact, local support should lay the groundwork for the principal's arrival.
With that said, it is paramount to have security drivers who understand:
- Traffic patterns,
- Timings, and
- Emergency protocols.
Additionally, these individuals need to be professional and not do anything rash traffic-wise or in any other security-related sense. If the CSO or team leader has not completed a thorough background check on the local partner, they may very well sink the security assignment altogether.
Duty of Care
That is where duty of care comes to the fore. Above all, the protection team must vet any vendors before choosing them to provide protective services. Vetting vendors is a strenuous task that involves talking to many individuals, finding out about their most recent experience in this field, and asking for recommendations.
To provide holistic protective services in more complex environments, we must consider vetted vendors as the sine qua non.
For example, if a United States national travels to Kinshasa, Lagos, or Mogadishu, their CSO could inquire with the local US embassy about who they use for providing security services. This is obviously only one course of action to consider.
Ultimately, offering bespoke security means protecting the client's physical well-being and their reputation. Proficient executive protection agents must not lose sight of that, as it is the essential aspect of any assignment. In this sense, duty of care means exploring the least and most important environmental and human factors to ensure safety.
Low Profile: What Is Travel Risk Management
It can be tempting for the world's wealthy and famous to feel as though they can walk the streets and behave in some African countries the same way as at home in the US or some Western European states.
By this, we mean flashing watches, clothes, and other valuables or behaving so as to exude affluence. Conversely, we urge you to dress down in public and carry less valuable luggage. A shabby pair of shoes and an inexpensive watch could spell the difference in drawing unwarranted attention.
Speaking of valuable items, criminals are often satisfied with cash. Thus, we recommend not bringing much money on your person en route. The same applies to credit cards. In fact, it would be unwise to bring those unnecessary for a specific trip.
Similarly, keeping a low profile means using private rather than public transportation. In most Western nations, the latter can often be a valid option. However, the less regulated corners of the require caution in this regard due to ubiquitous issues such as:
- Street crime, and
- Fake or unreliable taxis.
In addition, luxurious vehicles can attract attention and invite car thieves and kidnappers to execute attacks. At any rate, the rule of thumb here is to remain as unpretentious as possible.
Staying unnoticed in countries with limited medical facilities seems especially difficult. The reason? Having a paramedic and security team escort an individual can in and of itself attract attention due to the sheer size of the entourage. The more people you bring, the more suspicious you become.
However, it is part of the duty of care to prepare for medical emergencies as well. And especially when the principal has health issues that require prompt action on behalf of paramedics.
Yes, it is true to say that the EPA can typically provide initial care. Still, most events necessitate medically trained professionals. Treating the principal in the local hospital is usually not a good option. Hence, we strongly advise looking into the possibility of having medical staff present on any trip abroad.
When asking the question of what is travel risk management, we need to acknowledge multiple factors that seep into this complex topic. From scheduling flights to tracking luggage and finding lodgings, travel considerations don't end with the principal arriving at the destination country's airport.
In fact, many criminals are aware that they will have trouble getting close to an airplane. Thus, they sometimes target airport terminals, hotels, and vehicles.
Therefore, here are the main takeaways to remember:
- Know that security will not take care of itself.
- Be aware that executive protection teams must prepare precautionary and preventive measures to ensure a safe and sound environment.
- Practice situational awareness.
- Keep a low profile by wearing casual clothing and inexpensive shoes, bags, and jewelry.
- Opt for a non-luxury car that blends with the common cars of the area in the more volatile environments, like those in Africa and South America.
- Hire a local support team with intimate knowledge of the local customs, laws, language, and other vital aspects.
Bedrock Special Projects provides peace of mind by implementing travel risk management measures to benefit prominent individuals, their families, and corporations. The Art of Executive Protection – Delivered with Elegance by Design.
Drop us a line to learn more!