Rethink the unpredictable risks of business travel

business-travel-risksInternational SOS has released a new travel risk mitigation insight titled, ‘Rethink Unpredictable’ containing data which reveals business travel risks are more predictable than currently perceived.

It pulls together the last three financial years of regional business travel medical, security and assistance case data with expert analysis to determine upcoming business travel trends that challenge the concept of volatile travel risks.

It seems 7 in 10 (72%) Australasia-based business travel health and security personnel say travel risks have increased over the past year.

Of those risks, 64% of Australia and New Zealand respondents think terrorism increased in 2016. Despite that perception, terrorism-related deaths around the world decreased both in 2016 and 2017, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace’s annual Global Terrorism Index.

Less than 1% of the security alerts sent out by International SOS in the 2016-17 fiscal year related to terrorist warnings and events.

Security director – Australasia for International SOS, Sally Napper, says despite the increased coverage of terrorism in the news, travellers are more likely to encounter road traffic accidents, petty crime, illness or other issues such as a lost passport or flight delays which disrupt travel and can impact business continuity.

Debunking the difference in perceived travel security threats versus real destination risks is an important travel security issue impacting on Australasia-based businesses today, she adds.

“The majority of travel security calls we take in our assistance centres focus on pre-travel advice and education aimed at helping travellers mitigate common threats they may face overseas.”

Other trending travel security concerns include understanding individual traveller risk profiles, protecting company data, and keeping up with the changing risk environment in different countries.

Along with analysing security trends, ‘Rethink Unpredictable’ also focuses on medical travel risks. A few of the emerging health preoccupations impacting regional businesses include stress and mental health issues, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the changing medico-legal environment, and the use of telehealth to optimise expert care whilst travelling.

It would be easy to assume that the vast majority medical cases happen in high-risk countries but almost half (43%) of medical cases managed by the International SOS Sydney Assistance Centre between 2016 and 2017 occurred in low to medium risk countries.

Less than 1% of all cases require a costly and disruptive evacuation, but case data shows the most common cause of medical evacuations (38%) in the corporate sector are due to cardiovascular diseases and almost half (44%) of all in-patient cases of clients in the education sector are related to injuries. This new data shows these risks are not as unpredictable as they seem.

From a minor medical condition to support during social unrest, it’s much less costly in human impact, time efficiency and hard cost terms to have appropriate support in place.

Travel risk mitigation programmes focus on prevention, risk mitigation, and risk avoidance while helping to prepare people before they travel and assisting managers to make better decisions about managing risk before anything happens.


80% of assistance centre calls are about pre-travel advice and education. 15% require outpatient visits, 4% require inpatient visits, and less than 1% involves evacuations and repatriations.

The most prevalent medical issues faced by mobile workers vary based on their industry. For example:

Corporate sector

38% of all evacuations are due to cardiovascular diseases
20% of in-patient medical centre visits are due to gastrointestinal issues
13% of out-patient visits are due to gastrointestinal issues

Education sector

65% of all evacuations are due to injuries
44% of in-patient medical centre visits are due to injuries
17% of out-patient visits are due to gastrointestinal issues

Extracting sector

44% of all evacuations are due to injuries
19% of in-patient medical centres visits are due to muscle, bone, and join diseases
17% of out-patient visits are due to gastrointestinal issues