Travel Industry Reacts to Terror Threat

globeIncreased traveler communications and crisis-contingency plan reviews are the top priority, according to a survey of agents and travel managers conducted by the Business Travel Coalition (BTC).

The BTC survey asked members what travel policy changes and other support travelers are receiving in light of news of a major terror threat.

"Given the new intelligence suggesting that al Qaeda may launch attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere during August, and attendant embassy closings and travel warnings, BTC wanted to seek to understand steps organizations were taking or considering taking with regard to adjusting employee travel, " Kevin Mitchell, BTC's Chairman said.

BTC conducted the survey over two days from Sunday, August 4 through Monday, August 5. Some 63 government, university and corporate travel managers from 8 countries participated. The results are preliminary and reflect the thinking and decisions of organizations in this first week of heightened security, BTC said.

BTC said additional surveys will be taken as developments warrant.

In its summary analysis, BTC reported that no organizations are currently planning travel policy changes regarding home-country travel. But 28.6 percent of organizations do plan to alter near-term policy regarding international travel; and just 10 percent of organizations plan to adjust meetings-related travel.

Among the changes travel managers say they will be making to policy are (1) a temporary ban on travel to countries where embassies have been closed; (2) a mandated review of all travel plans to review alternatives; and (3) an elevated travel approval process, BTC said.

Travel departments are also increasing the frequency of travel advisories, reviewing crisis-contingency plans and communicating the link between policy compliance and traveler safety. Travel managers need to know where travelers are in a time of crisis and to be able to efficiently communicate with them, BTC said. 

A majority of travel managers (57.9 percent) are concerned about the future tracking of travelers' whereabouts during a crisis because under the International Air Transport Association’s Resolution 787 proposal, when a traveler needs to change an international itinerary after a trip begins, there could be multiple airlines sitting on disparate pieces of the Passenger Name Record in their respective systems, BTC said. 

BTC reported that  68.8 percent of respondents said they would increase frequency of travel advisories and increase communications linking policy compliance to traveler safety and security.

BTC reports that 26.3 percent strongly agreed and 31.6 percent agreed that the International Air Transport Association’'s (IATA) Resolution 787  to create a new global business model for the pricing and sale of airline tickets could be a problem. (36.8% were undecided and 5.3% disagreed.)