There is no doubt that all the travel vendors and corporate buyers are talking about “duty of care”, but unlike the pharmaceutical industry where all benefit statements must be based on evidence and regulatory verification, there are many ‘solutions’ that are the equivalent to pharmaceutical exaggerations and falsehoods, ranging from vitamins to herbs to magic bracelets, to sugar water and jelly beans. A recent international conference focusing on corporate travel innovations and management underlined some of these concerning beliefs and falsehoods.

One new travel management company, created purely to service an internal travel management requirement, stated “Our duty of care provider….” but then went on to highlight events, services, issues and standards not associated with any travel health, safety, security or risk management standard. The fact that there is NO SUCH THING as a duty of care provider, further reinforced the statement as being misguided at best. Anybody buying or selling “duty of care provider” goods/services, is dealing in jelly beans, not medicine/official pharmaceuticals.

Just because you write “duty of care” on something, doesn’t make it real. For many, it is the non “fit for purpose” confession that will likely lead to evidence in their own liability than address the risk the set out to manage in the first place. A bit like wearing a baseball cap as a substitute for a motorcycle helmet. They both cover your head, but only one complies with international standards and is purpose designed for the protection of your head in the event of accident. Enough with the metaphors, you get the point.

A large multinational added “we received an alert about the Ebola Virus this morning and thanks to our monitoring program are now relocating those within affected areas”. The fact that the Ebola Virus had been well reported and numerous travel advisories released over the course of the preceding 2 weeks was overlooked. The process of “foreseeable risk” was not mentioned, and that if a company knowingly permitted/arranged travel to a location with a known threat, that would negatively impact the life safety and security of an employee, could be liable for negligent health and safety practices. Not to mention that it took and “alert” for them to respond, not a consistent and effective means of evaluating travel risk in the first place.

Nearly all the companies present, have rules and policies around the use of vehicles, those used by employees and those operated on their premises. Typically, they must be licensed, operated by qualified personnel, driven according to safe handling guidelines, serviced regularly and only used for their specific design and function. Yet, a global travel management provider stated over and over again how they were a “duty of care” solution for all their users, be demonstrating that Airbnb and Uber applications [self managed/provided accommodation and taxi alternative services] plugged directly into their travel management platform. Excuse me?? You claim to be knowledgable about and providing a service that is health and safety based, yet you openly support and encourage employees to stay at random accommodation facilities and be transported by unregulated/verified motor vehicle operators? Such statements make a mockery of the term “duty of care” and those claiming to provide this fictional solution.

One prominent speaker made multiple references to duty of care and how their solution was the only and best alternative for business travel, or words to that affect. This same person, at the same event, the proceeding year, was on stage making the same claims and using the same statements, for an entirely different company, product and service.

The most concerning fact in all of this is that far too many people were seated in the audience, nodding their heads and agreeing with multiple inaccurate, false and exaggerated claims.

For business travellers

Your company is required to demonstrate and comply with local, regional and international health and safety standards/conventions when you travel. This health and safety management must be relevant to the business, specific to your journey and your individual/personal circumstances. Not a one-size-fits all option.

If your company is claiming ‘travel risk management’ support or systems, it must demonstrate and comply with the only international standard on risk management. Not a hybrid, not an “internal policy” and not selective elements of various standards or practices. It must also be relevant to the business, specific to your journey and your individual/personal circumstances. Not a one-size-fits-all.

For travel/risk managers

See the above as a start point. Stop buying/believing claims without facts or mapped against the known legislation and standards.

Lay out  the health and safety regulations and compliance requirements [you probably have them already documented for your physical business practices] and verify you have the same standard and process for business travel. It is considered an extension of the workplace.

Lay out the international risk management standard, and verify you comply with ALL the required steps/practices, when it comes to travel.

If you can’t then apply it to your business specifically, each journey and each and every traveller at a personal level. You have a problem and likely exposure, we suggest you correct it, and start the process over again.

For vendors of “duty of care” products

Have your Chief Risk Officer verify your claims. Document exactly how, where and why your product provides what you claim. Break down the 13+ steps required to demonstrate effective travel health, safety, security and risk management and where/how your product delivers or supports ALL OF THE REQUIREMENTS. If you can’t, quickly review your use of the expression, or notify your professional insurance/indemnity provider, you are likely to need them at some point shortly. The sun is setting on the lack of knowledge and blind acceptance of misleading claims relating to duty of care.


Travel Safety Experts
Travel Safety Experts

Travel health, safety, security and risk management experts