When you are going on a business trip, whether it is simply to a different city in your state or halfway around the world, it is important to consider your security. This is particularly important if you are one of the principals of the company, as a business can often be held liable if something bad happens to an employee on a business trip.
Properly preparing the safety and security aspect of the trip is a relatively simple task that in most cases will take only a few hours, but could save you and your company a lot of problems.
Here is how to ensure that your next business trip will be a safe and secure one:
Plan ahead and thoroughly research the places you will visit.
- Some locations are peaceful and quiet, while others are marginally or even extremely dangerous and require security preparations. Do some research on the country, city and neighborhood where you will be staying or visiting. The internet has many resources that can help you, such as travel related sites, forums and even the US Department of State has a website with detailed profiles of every country in the world. There are also travel guides that you can purchase as well. Another good way to get some useful info on a locale is to talk to someone who is a native, or who has recently visited the place.
- You will be able to find information on things such as the crime rate, possibility of any natural disasters, as well as the possibility that war, civil commotion or acts of terrorism could occur. Remember that the security situation could vary significantly within a country, state or even city. For example, some parts of New York City are very safe at any hour of the day, while others are best avoided, and still others may be safer at different times of the day.
- These sources will also give you some insight on the local population, and you can learn more about specific social or business customs in the area that you will be visiting.
Choose your accommodations carefully.
- This is especially important if you are going to a country where you have never been before. Once again, the internet can help you find very useful bits of information on hotels located throughout the world, including reviews by travelers who have stayed there. Compare every hotel where you envision staying, and check their reputation, service, ratings and where they are located in town. Generally, the higher rated and more expensive a hotel is, the more secure it is.
- Unless you are on an extremely tight budget, avoid cheap motels or very small hotels that only have a few rooms. Many of those establishments are located in seedy parts of town and do very little to protect the safety of their guests and their property. For example, they may have cheap locks on the door that can be picked or jimmied in a few seconds. Some cheap hotels are also used as places for drug dealing and prostitution, often with the complacency or compliance of their owners. A little discretion goes a long way to protect yourself and your business partners.
Pay attention to what you take in your luggage.
- One general rule is to not take any item that could not be replaced when lost or stolen. This is especially important when it comes to laptop computers. Due to their value, laptops are often targets for thieves. While a machine can be replaced at some financial cost to your company, the data it contains is often very difficult to replace. For this reason, you should make several backup copies of any important information you have on your laptop on another medium, such as a USB disk or flash memory card. Take one copy with you, preferably stored separately from the bag where your laptop is located, and leave a safety copy behind, at home or in the office.
- If your laptop computer has sensitive information that could cause serious damage to your company if it falls in the wrong hands, you should use encryption software and detailed passwords to make sure that these files cannot be easily read by anyone else, even if your laptop should be stolen.
Ensure everyone on your trip has adequate travel insurance.
- Many insurance companies sell travel insurance policies that will cover you if in the event that you become ill, have an accident or have your belongings lost or stolen. Travel insurance companies will also provide you with a 24-hour number for assistance that you can call while you travel. They will be able to help you and guide you to the right resources if, for example, your passport or credit cards are stolen, or if you suddenly need to find a doctor who speaks English.
- Many credit card companies provide their cardholders with travel insurance if the cost of the travel was charged in full to their cards. Check with your card issuer to see if they provide you with any travel coverage. Whether you have travel insurance provided by your credit card or whether you buy an insurance policy yourself, it is important to read every single detail in the policy to find out for how long you are covered, and what is included or excluded in the policy.
If traveling to high risk areas, consider hiring a professional travel security consultant firm.
- While most places in the world are safe for business visitors to travel to, a few are not, mostly due to very large amounts of crime, civil strife, or a high possibility of terrorist acts. There are firms which specialize in travel security and area able to provide information and training to business travelers who must go to high risk areas. They can recommend which precautions to take while traveling and provide training on what to do should the worst happen. Some also have professional bodyguards which can be hired to protect businesspeople and their property while visiting a foreign country that is potentially dangerous.
One last tip to ensure safety when on a business trip is to remember to use common sense. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times and remember to watch your belongings closely, never leaving anything valuable unattended in a public place.Simple security often saves you heartache!