Business trips and hotels: Safety in the heart of the business relationship

Recent attacks in Bamako, Ouagadougou and Grand-Bassam have dramatically recalled that hotels were high value targets for terrorist groups[1]. Since 2002, 25 major attacks[2] have conducted against hotels. For international companies, the selection of hotels to house their business travellers during their mission is not anymore a simple act of purchasing service. This is a key step in fulfilling the duty of care towards their employees. To generate a satisfactory offer regarding safety in hotels, corporate customers must redefine their expectations.
This upsurge of attacks implies for business, tourism professionals and hoteliers, questioning their travel protocols. These measures are even more important given that the aversion of the Western public opinion for the risk is now a mega trend.
Beyond terrorism risk and natural disasters, any kind of common crimes can also occur. If we add the fact that hotel is sometimes part of strategic information theft attempts, and we have a rather exhaustive overview of the dangers threatening the employees on assignment.
In this context, international companies do need to review their practices. And this, especially since employers have a Duty of Care[3] towards their employees travelling as part of their jobs. This obligation is mentioned in the European Directive on occupational safety of workers and health[4] as well as national regulations[5].

Analysis

All companies do not have the same level of maturity regarding the travel safety. Companies with a high proportion of employees moving abroad, operating in countries at risk or whose operations take them in remote areas away from the large cities are among the most advanced in this area. Likewise, for companies who already faced the death of an employee, whose HSE culture (Health & safety Executive) is highly developed or are originated from countries with already advanced security requirements.
Given the previously mentioned legislative framework, it is the employer’s responsibility to assess the risks, to inform and train the employee in order to ensure optimum reaction towards different types of incident. The risk assessment must take into account that Duty of Care covers “all the time of the mission.” Thus, facing a terrorist threat to hotel establishments, companies should constantly adjust their hotel selection in a rapidly changing environment. Hotels can be targeted for who they are (motivation related to the brand or the profile‚Äôs owner) as well as for those they host (client profile).

Conclusion

Without waiting for legislative change, companies must take the lead in their own interest. They have to support hoteliers in their security improvement program. It is their duty to consider the quality of the security as a key element of decision in the SEO process and a selection criterion when booking trips. In this context, the certification, as defined by ISO 17067, is the best solution to improve the safety of hotels. In that way, it transforms inevitable security costs for hotels into arguments and commercial advantages for capturing an attentive clientele to this aspect of hotel service.
It is therefore crucial for hotels’ “major account” customers to express their expectation. It is essential that they take this chance to become promoters of this new approach by requiring hotels to demonstrate their compliance and participating in the development of a standard.
By supporting the emergence of a hotel security certification, they also allow to small and medium-sized enterprises that cannot afford services of travel safety expert to enjoy the benefits granted by a safer working environment at the time of their professional displacements.
[1] https://goo.gl/mIvR2V
[2] Lefting 10 dead or more
[3] https://goo.gl/swIdvQ
[4] European Council Directive 89/391/EEC, 1989
[5] https://goo.gl/nQ0lEm
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