Last week, we co-hosted a webinar with our partner, International SOS. One of the major topics covered is travel risk management and the increase in risks to business travelers. As these employees continue to be at risk, it is critical that organizations understand that they have a duty of care to protect business travelers domestically and abroad.
Rise in Risk to Travelers
International SOS presented findings from a recent survey of people responsible for travel and risk management:
- 4 percent of respondents think travel risks will decrease in 2017
- 72 percent say travel risks have increased over the past year
- 57 percent expected travel risks to increases in 2017
- 80 percent say their business has modified itineraries due to health or travel security concerns
As threats continue to increase, and more employees travel for business, travel risk management should be a major focus for organizations of all sizes. These plans should be shared with all traveling employees so they know they will be taken care of when traveling domestically or abroad for work.
If you’d like to follow along while watching the webinar, please read the recording below:
My name is Annie Asrari, and I’m responsible from the product management side for several of our products, the main one being the safety connection solution. And I work on our International SOS integration, very closely with the International SOS team.
Now let me introduce our speakers. First, we have Dr. William Hauptman, Medical Director Assistance for America for International [00:00:30] SOS. Dr. Hauptman is responsible for providing medical assistance and coordination of medical care for patients traveling and living abroad. He also provides general oversight and case management direction to medical team members in the assistance center.
Next, we have Zach Falk, Regional Security Manager for Americas for International SOS. Zach is responsible for enhancing client’s understanding [00:01:00] and utilization of travel security membership services. Zach assists clients with the development of fully-integrated travel security risk management programs and provides guidance on crisis planning and execution of security evacuations. He also supports clients with the development of travel security policies and travel security awareness training programs.
Finally, we have Arley Hanna. She is the Regional Technology Specialist [00:01:30] for International SOS. Arley also works very closely with the everbridge folks on the integration.
Now, before I pass the presentation over to our speakers, I just want to take a quick look at the agenda. International SOS [inaudible 00:01:47] is a global market research firm. Following a recent study that was conducted in late 2016 by International SOS, our speakers will look at the perception [00:02:00] of risk and importance of expecting the unexpected. Our speakers will then take a look at your integrated solutions in action, as they discuss real-life examples that organizations like yours need to be prepared for, and how an integrated solution can ensure your mobile workers are safe and secure as they travel and live abroad.
Finally, we will wrap up and answer any questions that [00:02:30] might come up here in the session. And, with that, I would like to pass it over to Zach.
Thanks very much, Annie, and for everyone’s who’s joined today on the line. First, we thought is would be helpful to set the stage a little bit regarding the evolution of travel risk and our offerings here at International SOS. We’ve made it our goal to really transform the way we do business to align with the changing world around us.
So you can see from this chronological slide here that we began [00:03:00] as an evacuation company 30 years ago. And that’s really where our clients were first using us, more as a safety net, more to protect their business travelers who might get ill while they’re traveling abroad on business, or get into a car accident, really the worst of the worst scenarios from a response capability standpoint. But you can see the evolution of that over time and how, through innovation, we’ve really become a fully-integrated travel risk management service provider today.
[00:03:30] I think a key piece on this timeline probably is in that 2001 space, when we think about events like September 11th, for example, being a key event that made organizations really realize they need to know also where their personnel are, and be able to communicate to their mobile work force and provide support to them in light of an incident.
It’s been an important progression to where we are today that’s led businesses as well to invest in a more comprehensive program that we offer, not just performing evacuations, [00:04:00] but also helping organizations to assess their risk proactively using that travel data, preparing their travelers accordingly in order to prevent those incidents, and then also at least manage the impact of those incidents that might be unexpected or unavoidable.
The study, and Annie actually referenced it earlier in the call, is we’re gonna provide some data to just help us set the scene a little bit. And this comes from an Ipsos MORI study that surveyed [00:04:30] about 1,200 organizations with global operations regarding travel risk. I think it’s an interesting fact there that only 4% of respondents in that large survey believe that travel risks will decrease in 2017. I don’t think it’s an altogether unsurprising stat, but it is a telling one, and at a somewhat shockingly low rate. I think it shows that there may be some debate whether risk is indeed increasing, or just taking new shapes and forms. [00:05:00] But hardly anyone is debating that the world is not becoming safer for travelers. I think we see that this perception is not just among the corporate risk stakeholders who’ve responded in this survey, but in our everyday lives.
In the information and social media age, travelers are more aware than ever the potential threats from reading the news, or being briefed on travel regulations. And so I think it’s beginning to influence whether they even go on vacation to a tropical location, where there might be Zika virus, [00:05:30] or going to a country where there’s been a terrorist attack. So it’s certainly top of mind for employees and for managers.
So let’s take a look at some other really interesting data from this survey. And I point everyone to the top left of this slide at first, to focus in on the 72% of respondents worldwide that say that travel risks have increased over the past 12 months. Again, you can get into the nitty-gritty of whether that’s a true increase [00:06:00] or not, but certainly the perception is there among travel risk stakeholders, that they need to be doing more, that their travelers that are heading out along are increasingly finding a complex global world to navigate when they’re on business travel. I think it’s this perception that’s really driving travel risk and conversations around duty of care upped the priority list for businesses that operate internationally.
Second, I want to point out that middle graphic that’s really taking a [00:06:30] little bit more of a regional understanding of what are folks’ perception of risks in different regions. First thing that called out to mind for me is that 50% number. You see among all the different regions, the highest results come from Europe and those based there, with half of them saying that travel risk has increased in their region. And I think that’s from seeing a number of events over the last 12 or 24 months in Paris, in Brussels, in Nice, more recently in St. Petersburg and Stockholm. It [00:07:00] certainly has people on edge a little bit about planning for these locations at well. And I think, certainly in the more recent weeks, if we took this survey again today, I would’ve bet that 28% number in East Asia and Pacific has probably been driven up recently, based on developments, for example, in the Korean peninsula.
So, how do I translate that? One of the things I take away from that is that I think we’re starting to debunk the myths a lot that we hear previously around, [00:07:30] from clients that say, “Hey, we typically travel to low-risk areas. Most of our operations or travelers go to benign environments, first-world countries in East Asia or Western Europe.” But what we’re seeing is that perception is certainly changing, and organizations are planning for those locations as much as their high-risk locations as well.
I think, finally, on this data and interpreting it, I would say look at that 80% number on the right side as well. And this is 80% of respondents saying that [00:08:00] businesses have modified itineraries due to the concern they have. That’s a statistic that really indicates that clients are translating these perceptions into actions. A good chunk of those 80% might be canceling trips. So those might be missed-out business opportunities, where companies have canceled trips to areas based on a perceived risk.
So it’s important to assess how are companies gauging that, and are they doing so in a competent and systemic fashion? I think a chunk of that is also the opposite. It might [00:08:30] be enabling travel. It might be bolstering preparation for travelers, and changing itineraries to make sure that they’re maybe taking flights instead of taking cars in areas where road safety might be of more concern. It’s key for organizations to have the programs in place to proactively make these calls on trips in a scalable fashion.
I think organizations also take advantage of travel risk programs to prepare for the unexpected, and having an integrated solution that really helps them respond to the things that can’t be predicted, the outbreak in disease, [00:09:00] or medical incidents, or medical accidents that take place while people are abroad.
Some more interesting data that, despite the perception of this increased risk that we were talking about, the volume of business travel continues to increase. So that’s an interesting combination. Even a recent Ernst & Young report indicated that global business travel volume is expected to increase on average by 5% annually for the next three years. And [00:09:30] I think, through our own surveying, we’re seeing that as well, that a lot of organizations are saying that part of why they’re increasing this investment in their travel risk programs is because they expect their global footprint to expand, they expect business travel to increase, despite the perceptions of an increasingly risky world.
So organizations are really looking to stay ahead of the curve now. You see in 2016 that nearly half of those polled said they’ve increased investment in risk mitigation. And around the same [00:10:00] percent expect that investment to continue this year. I think more and more, in the last couple of years, I’ve been sitting across the table from risk management stakeholders and senior management at organizations I support, who say that they need to be doing more. And that’s not just the small organizations that are aware of their gaps, but even those with a breadth of in-house resources, programs in place. They’re always looking to improve there.
And they’re investing their challenges in a number of ways. When we talk about investment in travel risk mitigation, [00:10:30] that could mean everything from ramping up communications to travelers on programs that are in place. It might mean further investing in training programs to prepare travelers, tracking tools to understand where travelers are. And I’ve been working with a number of risk and security managers who’ve really been mandated to analyze their gaps, and assess them, and outfit further travel risk policies and compliance measures to those policies within their organization.
So as we look back at many different types [00:11:00] of global events that we’ve seen recently, from natural disasters to earthquakes to outbreaks like Ebola and Zika, we talk about an integrated solution. And we’ll talk a little bit more in detail about what that means shortly. But the idea is being that this kind of solution is helping organizations meet your duty of care obligations, covering the worst case scenarios like the ones we see here, which can be very challenging for organizations to manage, as well as the day-to-day.
There’s a significant business [00:11:30] advantage here as well, to have an integrated program, a real return on investment for those with an integrated solution. Just to give you some examples of what I mean by that, a comprehensive program which we’ll outline in the coming time following these slides, a couple of things we see and do, we see it reduce the chance of trips or assignments being disrupted or cut short, therefore reducing costs. A failed ex-pat assignment for an organization or a failed business trip based on an incident that could’ve [00:12:00] been prevented is quite costs to organizations.
Reducing additional costs of care and evacuation due to emergency as well. I know Dr. Hauptman would back me up as well, that early action and the right measures in place to assist travelers early on in a medical incident can often prevent evacuation, which are more costly events. These kind of programs help to maintain better business continuity, and they also reduce the risk of prosecution under occupational health and safety legislation.
[00:12:30] So, with that, now that we’ve talked a bit in general about a solution and the programs, it’d be helpful we thought to share a couple of real case scenarios to illustrate how these programs work. So what we thought we would do is first start with this as an example, which was the terrorist attack that impacted Istanbul’s Ataturk airport. Just to refresh everyone’s memory, this was an attack perpetrated by multiple suicide bombers and shooters in June of 2016. [00:13:00] You can see the death toll that resulted, and the injury toll that resulted from these events. And I think, even beyond that, just that thousands and thousands of travelers were affected.
Speaking to that a bit, this was Istanbul’s main international airport. To set the scene, Turkey is not only a key business location for many multi-national organizations, but it’s a transit hub connecting Europe with the Middle East and with Asia as well. So part of the challenge here is where, even for organizations that maybe didn’t have a footprint or operations [00:13:30] in Turkey, had people that might’ve been on their way to that airport, or traveling through that airport at the time. And the same is true for other events that we’ve seen in places like Brussels.
So when reports of an attack hit social media around 10 o’clock local time in Turkey on that day, you can imagine that managers quickly needed to provide reassurance and assistance to their folks on the ground in Turkey. And they also needed to know who was heading into harm’s way. So, like I said, who might be on [00:14:00] a plane en route to that airport at the time that might get diverted to another location that they’re not familiar with? How are they going to communicate and assist them in an unfamiliar environment? They might need to know who might be scheduled to travel there in the coming days as well. So these are all things that made this kind of scenario a bit challenging.
We thought it would be helpful just to give you an idea of what International SOS is doing as this kind of crisis unfolds. You see that the first [00:14:30] reports of an attack taking place just after 10 o’clock local time. As soon as that incident happened, our analysts … International SOS has a team of analysts that are locally in a region in the Middle East that are picking up the reports of this incident on social media. So they begin to see, use social media aggregation tools to pick up this chatter. And we understand that it’s imperative that we get information out to our travel risk stakeholders, as well as individuals on the ground very quickly. [00:15:00] You can see that, within 13 minutes, we’ve published one of what we call “special advisories,” advising individuals that this attack was taking place.
But one of the things that’s important here is that we need to verify the incident. So, while we quickly did that within less than 15 minutes, that’s not at the compromise of ensuring that that information is accurate. What we do there is that’s where we take advantage of our local experts in the region, who speak the local languages, who can monitor local media who were first on the scene as well in Turkey, who could [00:15:30] speak with our contacts and our partners on the ground to be able to verify the incident, because what we want to do is not only provide information in an expedient manner, we want to make sure it’s valuable and accurate information, as opposed to just spreading rumors, so to speak. And that’s a key piece of the puzzle here from an intelligence perspective.
Once we send that alert out, that’s when can expect to have people want to do something with that information, right? So we’re gonna want to see that, we’re gonna know that people are going to be calling in and asking for further [00:16:00] information, asking for advice as what should I be doing, should I be staying in my hotel, should I be going to a different airport, should I be leaving the country? And you see that those first requests start to come in just 20 minutes after the event. We begin to field those calls on our medical and security platform.
I think another key piece of our program is we’ve been doing this for decades, and we can immediately detect that there’s a scale here for potential crisis. We know there’s going to be a spike in calls, and we need to also maintain [00:16:30] our business as usual to our clients who are assisting elsewhere as well. So that’s when we activate our crisis management team, and we establish a reinforce team in our assistance center in the Middle East, in the region, to provide dedicated resources to support these requests.
Over the course of the first 36 hours after this incident began taking place, we received nearly 200 such requests. So that’s where we have that dedicated team of operations managers, security specialists, and medical personnel, [00:17:00] all with the ability to speak the local language, to be calling and arranging for assistance to these individuals, all of those kind of things coming together under one roof to support our clients.
And with that, I’d actually toss it to Dr. Hauptman. Maybe, as we assemble this crisis team, Dr. Hauptman, you can comment a little bit about what is the medical team thinking regarding those risks that play here, in addition to security.
Sure, Zach. Well, thank you very much, and it’s a pleasure for me to be participating in today’s webinar. [00:17:30] The medical team at International SOS certainly works collaboratively with the security team and operations teams, as well as with a client liaison team that we have, so that we have somebody representing our clients to determine how we will communicate as we get more information.
We’ve seen at International SOS that all security events inevitably include a medical component. There can be injured parties [00:18:00] who need emergency care. The medical team will work closely with the local health resources to make sure that everyone gets the care they need. And we’ll also monitor this care until the member is well enough to be discharged. Our local office will liaise with the hospitals on-site to know exactly where are is available, given the huge increase in medical needs after the crisis. We will also send a medical International SOS [00:18:30] representative to be on-site and to visit the hospitals and coordinate care.
There will also, in addition to injured parties, there will be instances of unexpectedly delayed travel, and members perhaps running out of important medications that they need. We will assist in these cases as well by identifying local physicians who can see these members and provide additional refills of the required medications.
During an event like this, we [00:19:00] receive many medical phone calls. Some calls originated for this event from the headquarters of our clients. We also got many calls from the ground, either to our office in Philadelphia or to our European offices, if members were using the app downloaded on their phone. Some of these calls were what we would call “code blue” calls for medical emergencies. Code blue calls have special significance and are handled in a particular [00:19:30] fashion. They’re identified by the coordinating employee here who takes the first call and notes the types of words that are used in the request for assistance. By protocol, the coordinator answering the call, whether it’s in London, or Philadelphia, or anyplace, immediately escalates this call to the medical team on duty once they hear these trigger words. The medical team provides telephone advice to the caller in an [00:20:00] effort to stabilize the situation, while simultaneously, the operations team is taking steps to mobilize resources on-site.
Additionally, as you can imagine, these sorts of events typically have a significant psychological impact, not just on the injured, but also on anybody who may have witnessed this event. In this instance, we were able to provide telephonic psychological support to those affected, including with post-traumatic stress [00:20:30] disorder symptoms. We were also able to deploy on-site, in Turkey, psychologists to address, for example, a particular group who were holed up in their airport hotel room, clearly in shock and unable to leave the hotel.
With that, I’ll hand the floor over to Arley to review this event from the manager’s perspective and the utilization of our tools, including Travel Tracker.
Great. Thank you, Dr. Hauptman. And, again, pleasure to [00:21:00] be participating in this webinar today.
So the way in which traveler tracking really works in all of this is that, before this event even occurs, International SOS works with organizations that we partner with and connect with their travel management companies, and also employee forwarding itinerary functionality, so that we are receiving travel and trip details into our system as soon as travelers are booking them. And then, as soon as a traveler’s trip is booked and received into our system, we’re pushing them a pre-trip [00:21:30] advisory email to better prepare them and inform them about the medical and security risk environment they’re traveling into.
During an event such as this in the airport attack, International SOS now has those itineraries in our system, and we’re able to quickly push travelers alerts about new threats or an incident in their location, both via email and through a push in the International SOS app, if the traveler has that on their phone, so that they’re really understanding what’s going on around them. And, more importantly, what they should be doing to maintain their safety and wellness in the [00:22:00] event of this scenario.
At the same time, managers are then receiving alerts as well, letting them know if they have some travelers in that affected area. So they’re logging into the Travel Tracker tool, zooming into the map to pinpoint those travelers, and then using a built-in messaging system, which is now powered by everbridge’s messaging tool, to really be able to reach out to those travelers and determine who is affected and who might need help.
It’s also crucial to have redundancy in communication during emergencies such as this [00:22:30] because, depending on the event, one or multiple lines of communication could be down to where emails or calls might not go through, text messages can go through. Or vice versa. So, again, within the Travel Tracker, they have multiple channels of communication available to reach out to their travels: email, text, text to speech, push notifications through that app. And, additionally, managers can flex send two-way messages asking their travelers to actually respond back and let them know their status, where they are on the group, if they need some help, etc. [00:23:00] Or, travelers can check into their location using the International SOS app, and actually show their managers where they are on the ground. So really, this way managers can then prioritize who really needs assistance, and they can focus their crisis response efforts accordingly.
Another component of the global risk management program that we provide to our clients is an online e-learning course and course, essentially. These courses walk through [00:23:30] with the traveler, preparation on both the medical and security side for their trip, really talking through general safety and wellness tips while they’re traveling. For example, and relevant during the Ataturk airport attack scenario, is the section, for example, on this airport behavior. Unfortunately, airports and other transportation stations are often targeted by criminals or terrorists due to the large concentration of travelers. So the course will talk through increasing layers of protection, keeping a low profile, [00:24:00] how and where to store valuables, listening to safety announcements, and really to ensure safety and awareness while moving through transportation hubs.
Another major component of the e-learning courses are talking through what to do when there is a medical and/or security event in the location where the traveler is. For example, when violence occurs, or terrorist attacks occur, it talks through how travelers can apply the principles of personal security when they’re traveling to a city where there is a greater threat for [00:24:30] these types of events. For instance, if there’s gunfire, and sometimes it’s difficult to know which direction it’s coming from, so travelers really pay attention to where people are moving away from to better understand where the threat is, and then looking for cover, finding cover, and moving quickly and in short bursts between cover to prevent becoming a target themselves. So, again, just for a few examples of what those course will talk through.
So I talked previously about the Travel Tracker, and how it works to [00:25:00] prepare travelers, both beforehand before their trips, but pushing them information as soon as they book, keeping them informed throughout the trip through those alerts, and then also keeping managers informed through manager-specific alerts and allowing them to have a better understanding of their potential exposure of their travelers and ex-patriots in an affected location.
So here’s just a screenshot of the Travel Tracker, to give a better idea of what managers will have access to, as far as an interactive map, to run searches for travelers. As Zach mentioned, sometimes [inaudible 00:25:30] to [00:25:30] run scenarios, it’s important to not only know who your current travelers are there, but those who might be scheduled to arrive in the next day or the next few days, in case there is a scenario such as this, where the airport was then closed for a couple of days. So it would’ve been necessary to also reach out to those future travelers, and give them some messaging and some directions around travel to that particular location.
And, again, as I mentioned earlier, everbridge is now a partner of ours. And within the Travel Tracker tool, everbridge is powering [00:26:00] the communication module, which really gives managers the ability to quickly reach out to travelers using multi-model functionality, in email and text, text to speech, push notifications, and allowing travelers to respond quickly back.
Now I’ll hand it back over to Dr. Hauptman to talk through another case scenario.
Thank you, Arley. Well, it’s very interesting to hear you present our different modes of technology. And, from a medical perspective, it’s gratifying, because we can certainly [00:26:30] leverage all of the technology that you discussed to the benefit of our patients. Now, I’d like to discuss a case we had recently that nicely demonstrates how the different components of the International SOS global risk management program are used together synergistically to obtain the best possible outcome.
The case I will discuss easily qualifies as a code blue. In other words, there were trigger words that were heard [00:27:00] by the coordinator who answered the phone when the call came in. Previously discussed a code blue call, and the associated protocol that goes along with it. So we understand that, upon hearing these trigger words, the coordinator immediately expedited this call and escalated it to the medical team. Although the request for assistance in this case was somewhat vague, as you will see, while the medical team was calming the first caller, the operations [00:27:30] team was able to leverage some of the technical tools that Arley has discussed to locate the patient in this case.
Now I’d like to walk through the steps taken to locate this patient and get him the critical care he needed. This slide currently visible outlines the specifics of the case. The first call came in at 8 a.m. from a family member who had received a suicide note by text from a member who was traveling in Europe. [00:28:00] That means, as you can imagine, that there was someone sitting at home who had a loved one who was traveling somewhere in Europe. That’s all they knew. There was a history of depression, and the message said nothing more than, “I’ve had enough. I’m going to end my life.” With that information, we then got activated by the family member who, of course, was very upset and concerned, but did not have a lot of information to help resolve this emergency. That was absolutely a code blue.
[00:28:30] We were immediately able to put together a team, including and using our collaborative skill sets of operations, medical, and security. Within 10 minutes of the call, Travel Tracker was able to pull the details of where the member was located, simply by having the name and company of the member. Attempts to try calling the member directly were made, but his phone was off. Two [00:29:00] minutes later, International SOS called the hotel where the member was located and spoke with the receptionist. After attempts by the receptionist to try and contact the member, we advised the receptionist to go to his room, while keeping us on the phone with her the whole time. After knocking, and still receiving no response, we advised her to enter the room, where she found the member unconscious in the bathtub, after overdosing on various substances and alcohol [00:29:30] that were found scattered around the room. The receptionist called emergency services and stayed with the member.
International SOS remained on the phone the entire time with the receptionist to provide constant guidance. Within approximately 15 minutes, local EMS arrived. Fortunately, this individual was still breathing. The EMS resuscitated him, put him in the ambulance, and took him to the nearest hospital, where he was further stabilized. Once on [00:30:00] route, International SOS reached out to the client to inform them that a situation had occurred, and then proceeded to reach out to the family and let them know that their loved one was okay. We let the client and the family know that we had taken him to a vetted facility that we had asked the ground ambulance to take him to. We were able to communicate with that facility, because it’s within our own database of providers within that region of Europe, and we work with that facility frequently [00:30:30] to take care of our members.
It’s amazing to think that this all happened in well under an hour from the time we received the call. In that short period, we were able to leverage operational, medical, and security teams, both in Philadelphia and abroad, where the first call came in, and in Europe, where the member was located, and have a very satisfactory outcome for all parties involved.
This case nicely demonstrates how we’re able to integrate [00:31:00] the different elements of our service offerings. Clearly, without the ability to harness our 24/7 emergency response mechanisms, together with the ability to track the exact location of this individual, the outcome would have been quite likely catastrophic. Once stable and ready to come home, this member was released into our care and received the medical repatriation home to the United States, accompanied by one of our [00:31:30] nurses.
The case that I discussed is a typical example of the medical events that may occur while your mobile workforce is traveling. It is clearly imperative, consistent with your duty of care to your employees, to have a well thought out plan in place to both prevent, insofar as possible, these events from occurring, and to manage these events when they do occur. You have a responsibility to assess the risks [00:32:00] inherent in your travel locations, and inherent in your travelers, prior to departure, and to prepare accordingly. You must be able to advise travelers with information, advice, and updates while they’re traveling, and you must be poised to assist your travelers with medical and security services and potentially evacuation when indicated.
As nicely demonstrated by the case discussed, in order to prevent a medical or security event [00:32:30] from evolving into a major crisis that you cannot control, it is important to be able to respond immediately. As we have seen, time is of the essence. It is critical to be able to track your travelers, and to maintain communication at all times. Once the location of your traveler is confirmed, and lines of communication are established, you must have 24/7 access to them and to on-the-ground local medical and security expertise. [00:33:00] This is critical to maximally harness local resources in order to obtain the best outcome.
So we see that each organization must think carefully about how your company will respond to an incident like this, for example. Who will manage the process? How will information be communicated? Which stakeholders will be in the room? All of these considerations must be incorporated into a crisis management plan. Having a plan in place is critical to being well-positioned so that, [00:33:30] in the instance of an event, your organization can focus on managing its response, and not on how to manage it.
With that, I will pass the floor to Zach, who will review the key components of the International SOS global risk management, the tools and resources that provide you with a solution to meet your duty of care, and fully support your mobile workforce.
Thanks, Dr. Hauptman. I think, hopefully, those two case studies really paint a good picture [00:34:00] of how a program like this really works, and also enables, again, like Dr. Hauptman said, to manage a crisis early on as well, even if you have folks impacted, to not only be able to get quick response and assistance to your mobile workforce, but have a quick, clear picture of what is your true exposure. I think Arley’s piece really outlined that, as to understand who exactly is impacted in your organization, and how is this relevant to your business in light of a bigger incident that’s being covered all over the news, for example.
[00:34:30] So we’ve seen here that the risks facing mobile workers are perceived to be on the rise at least. It is imperative that organizations have a program like this in place. The International SOS global risk management program is a new solution that we’ve designed to really provide all of these elements in one place for you. So we look at things, I can go over the core components you see listed here covering all those bases that we’ve outlined, just to give you a visual. [00:35:00] If you start in the top right there, we start with those digital learning pieces, the pieces of companies wanting to prepare and properly train travelers to know what those risks are, and how to be taking the key easy measures, especially to be able to reduce those risks while they’re on the road. So, a full suite of different [inaudible 00:35:20] e-learning is available as well, and certainly covering the basics from a medical and security perspective on travel risk.
We talked about the easy access to information. [00:35:30] Both my colleagues here mentioned our International SOS apps, so bringing to bear all the resources that we have on our platform, medical and security experts, regional expertise throughout the globe. We want to be able to translate that into consumable information for travelers and travel risk stakeholders. And we do that by providing access to a portal website, by having that all accessible, most importantly on a mobile app, which our program users utilize in order to [00:36:00] get that information on an expedient basis, and use that information to make good, quick decisions on a personal and managerial level.
The tracking piece is critical. As I opened up, in my timeline of the evolution of travel risk management, this has become a critical piece. Again, to have that understanding of what a company’s travel profile really is, both in general to be able to outfit certain policies and protocols and mitigation steps in place on a regular basis, but [00:36:30] also in terms of critical incident response, being able to have an idea of not just where your operations are and where your local staff are, and communicating to those folks, but those that are on the road that might be in flight at the time, that might be landing in an area that day or the next day where there’s a potential risk to them. So being able to track and communicate, very critical.
And then that all just comes all the way full circle to that response capability. As much as we do absolutely [00:37:00] everything on the front end, it’s understood that folks will be in the wrong place at the wrong time, where certain things are not under our control. So, as Dr. Hauptman mentioned, real-time access on a 24/7 basis to those experts that speak the necessary local language and what have you, all being there to also come together from an emergency response perspective on behalf of the organizations that we support.
So, with that, at this [00:37:30] point, I would love to pass it back to Annie to maybe look at some of the Q&A that we have from everyone that’s participating today.
Thanks so much, Zach. Before I look at the questions that have come in, I just want to remind everyone to fill out the survey that’ll appear at the close of today’s webinar.
Now, the first question is for Arley. The question on the line [00:38:00] came for Arley, and it says, “When you say the itinerary is sent to the app for staff tracking purposes, does it consider just flight itinerary, or flight and hotel? Can it also consider land travel and train bookings?”
Yeah, thank you, Annie. Thanks a great question. Yeah, the Travel Tracker and how it work is, when we put those data feeds or connections in with the travel management companies, we receive any flight bookings, hotels, train trips, car rentals, car services as [00:38:30] well. And that way, requesting all those various types of itinerary details for the travelers, so that we can really have visibility of different parts and modes of their trip as well.
And then, through the International SOS app, which is an app for smartphones, it also gives travelers the ability to click on a button in that app to check in to their location, actually providing us some more on-the-ground detailed location details for that traveler, to really help fill in the gaps, ’cause it’s great to know where you have travelers planning on visiting, [00:39:00] planning on flying into this airport, planning on staying in this hotel. But where are they right now when something occurs, like the Ataturk airport, for example, or Brussels, or Paris, or Nice, or Istanbul-type scenario?
So important to also give them that ability to quickly let you know where they are by checking into their location. And that visibility, their location details, appear on the Travel Tracker map as well.
Perfect. Thank you, Arley.
We have a second question, and this question is for Zach. [00:39:30] “Are security evaluations prepared based on US government, or Canadian, or international assets? Can this be modified for a company using your services?”
That’s a great question, and one we get quite frequently, Annie. The answer is that we make our own analysis, and we set our own risk ratings per country and city level independently of government warnings and literature. That’s certainly a critical piece that we are considering. When we [00:40:00] make our recommendations and our evaluations, we’re certainly tied into those government warnings and those resources that we liaise with quite frequently and translate into our own recommendations. But, at the same time, we’re independent of those. We understand that there’s a need to consider many other sources of information and intelligence. So, in addition to those, we consider a lot of open source resources, we consider our own resources on the ground to make evaluations, our partnerships, we consider [00:40:30] think tanks, we consider … We’re not just solely reliant on government literature for making our recommendations.
To the point about flexibility is a key one. We are very flexible in this regard, because what we do is we provide a baseline rating on a place that can help guide an organization or a company. But those companies that utilize our programs have the ability to adjust those ratings as well, and customize them in their own platforms to support their own policies and procedures and guidance to their travelers, [00:41:00] according to their own specific risk tolerance. A key thing there is that we support many clients that operate and do business in places that might already have a government warning, or a government recommendation not to travel, but they need to for their business mission. So, what we do is be able to provide some of those evaluations independent of the government rating, or the government recommendation, in order to provide the appropriate guidance on mitigation and how to enable that travel for companies [00:41:30] that might have a threshold that’s different to what their local governments might say.
Great. Thank you, Zach.
The next question is also for Arley. “How easy does International SOS integrate with automated booking systems like Concur? Can you shine some light on that, Arley?”
Sure. Thanks, Annie. Yeah, absolutely. Typically what we do is we work directly with the travel [00:42:00] management companies. So, quite often, we see that our clients are using Concur as maybe their expense management tool, and maybe also a travel booking tool. But then it feeds into a travel management company or multiple companies. And that’s really typically where we’re making that connection into our system. So we’re receiving a copy of the PNRs or the bookings, as well as updates, changes, cancellations. That way, we can keep that accurate picture of all travelers in the Travel Tracker. But, absolutely, sometimes our clients will have a Concur system. Maybe it’s linked to an [00:42:30] internal travel booking system as well. So those data feeds can come to us in a number of different ways.
For example, we can tap into global distribution systems. So, if it’s going to an internal travel booking system that uses a global distribution group, some are GDS like Saber, Worldspan, Amadeus, we can tap into that to create the feed into our system. And sometimes travel management companies, or other expense management systems, have a bulk file that they can send through to us as well. So we have a number of different formats we can port to link in with [00:43:00] those different players.
One more question for Dr. Hauptman. “Where does International SOS’ intelligence come from that populates the medical alerts?”
Thank you very much for that question, Annie. And it’s really a very important topic. We see that the global medical landscape is constantly evolving with new potential threats that [00:43:30] organizations need to be apprised of before they send their traveling workforce to certain locations. You need to know about different infectious diseases that may be vector-borne by mosquitoes, such as Zika or malaria. You need to know about various air quality changes in places like China and India.
So International SOS has a team of experts globally that monitor the medical situation [00:44:00] and provide the information in our medical alerts. We have tremendous on-the-ground resources globally with various ministries of health in different countries, medical doctors, and other clinicians in all countries that we’re in touch with, medical directors of hospitals, pharmacists. Our global team is in touch with all of these potential sources, so that we can [00:44:30] know exactly what new medical threats are on the horizon, both what’s occurring now and to enable to, quite frankly, to predict what may occur into the future, by seeing what’s occurring now.
So, given the tremendous resource of our on-the-ground support, we’re able to collate all of this information and provide daily medical reports, so that our members are fully-apprised of what new events [00:45:00] are occurring that may impact their global travelers.
Great. Thank you so much.
Another question for Dr. Hauptman. “Are you able to assist with quarantine, either at home or abroad if a traveler is potentially exposed to a disease?”
Yeah, that’s a great question. In fact, we have a case ongoing right now, where we have a member who [00:45:30] developed an infectious pneumonia in China, and the local authorities determined that all family members need to be quarantined. So, in that instance, as you can imagine, it’s very frightening to the family member and to the client, to fully understand, “Why do we have to be quarantined? What is the concern about the infectious disease that my loved one has? How long are we going to need to be quarantined?”
In instances like that, [00:46:00] International SOS will significantly liaise with the local health authorities, so that we can determine exactly what the concerns are, and we can report that back to the family, so they’ll have an understanding of why they’re being quarantined, and how long this may last for.
Thank you so much.
Another question has come in from our listeners, and this one is [00:46:30] for Arley. Our listener is saying, “Already sold on International SOS. Used it at a past company, and I loved it. But I’m at a smaller company now, and I’m afraid your services aren’t going to be within our budget. Is there a pricing scale based on anticipated demand?”
Yeah, thank you, Annie. Thanks a great question. I really wanted to take this one, to make sure that our listeners were really of the understanding that what we’ve done lately, just over the past year [00:47:00] or so, is kind of bundle some of our program offerings together in a much more scalable type of bundle, to really support some of our smaller and medium enterprise sized clients. So it really is based on the expected number of travelers that you will have internationally, and it provides that assistance platform that Zach and Dr. Hauptman have been talking about, and having your travelers– giving them the ability to call in and get some medical and security support. It also includes the Travel Tracker with that communication module included in it, [inaudible 00:47:30] [00:47:30] a message out to them quickly and in emergency, give them that check and keep ability through the app, and also include some of those e-learning courses to better prepare them before they’re even traveling abroad. So we call it our global risk management program, or GRMP, and we’re absolutely happy to follow up with a little bit more information to our attendees on that program after this. So thank you, Annie. Appreciate that.
Annie, this is Zach here. To Arley’s point, in addition to the scalability in terms of price, I think a key [00:48:00] think I run into a lot with stakeholders that I work with, is also that ability to manage such a program, understanding that we have smaller organizations that need to meet this duty of care obligation, have all of these key components. But not just from a price perspective, but also then how do I utilize the tool? So I think that’s another thing that’s been a key piece of this solution that we’ve designed and enhanced over the last year or so, is to also put together something that kind of runs itself on a lot of levels, and allows the purchaser [00:48:30] and the program manager to oversee and customize where they have that time. But really things like distributing that training through our [inaudible 00:48:37] tools, and being able to given that access, all things that can be brought to bear without a ton of needs from the client side, in terms of a labor-intensive implementation or management perspective. So that’s equally important for those smaller organization, as well as the price.
[00:49:00] Thank you so much, Zach.
Another question for Arley. “When it comes to Travel Tracker, do organizations have concerns from travelers around privacy and being tracked?”
Great question. Thanks, Annie. Yeah, it does come about that there’s still concern that some travelers are thinking we’re watching their every move while they’re traveling. And, really, that’s not the case. As we mentioned before, we’re collecting their flight itineraries, their hotel [00:49:30] bookings, maybe their train trips as they’re moving about in their destination. And that’s probably information that a company is going to have already at their fingertips through the travel management company or their internal travel department. So really, it’s just aggregating that information into a map for managers to better have that visibility on demand in a couple of seconds to find out where their travelers are and communicate with them.
When it comes to the mobile check in feature for the app, and actually allowing travelers to check in to their location, that is obviously much more visibility [00:50:00] of where they actually are on the ground. But that is absolutely an opt-in functionality. So, at the end of the day, it is up to the traveler to actually click on that button to check into their location. It’s not a background tracking app that’s following their every move and showing their managers where they are. So really a great tool when it comes to an emergency type of situation where, if they’re feeling unsafe, they can check in. Or a manager can prompt them to do so, that they can provide better support there on the ground and know where are their locations and whereabouts are.
Also, [00:50:30] if it comes down to some information security types of questions, all of our tools are ISO 27001 certified. We can provide [inaudible 00:50:39] report information. So any other information management security systems types of questions, we have our full information security team that can also join the conversation, kind of talk through all of the measures that are applied to our tools.
Thank you so much, Arley.
One more question [00:51:00] for Zach or Dr. Hauptman. Our listener is saying, “I may have missed this, but does this device only cover international travel, or travel within the US as well?” Not device. Service.
Sure. Thanks very much, Annie, and for that question from the audience. It does cover both. Mainly the focus, as you can imagine, on a number of things are for international travel. But this is really becoming [00:51:30] one conversation, which is a lot about what the partnership and integration is with everbridge and International SOS is is you have multiple populations that you need to still extend that duty of care to. Many organizations have domestic travelers. So actually part of this, all the technology that Arley has articulated here, and being able to capture travel and disseminate our alerts and our information, is all applicable to domestic travel as well. We outlined the Istanbul attack as an example today. That very easily could’ve been an American [00:52:00] company that had folks in Ft. Lauderdale’s airport when the attacks in the baggage claim area took place there.
So, the idea of being that, when travelers are away from home, they also, even within domestically, need to be informed. So being able to download our app, being able to get that information, is a key piece as well that applies to that population as well. And, Dr. Hauptman, if you have any comments on the medical side?
Sure. I would add further that what we see very frequently is that a lot [00:52:30] of our clients have foreign international employees. That may be somebody who’s French, or Chinese, or Indonesian. And they’re on a business trip in the United States, and they have a heart attack, or a stroke, or some other perhaps less major medical event like a sore throat. And it’s very reassuring to everybody that we can assist this foreign national while they’re in the United States, and make sure that they get appropriate medical care, provide language assistance sometimes [00:53:00] if necessary within the US, and make sure that they’re comfortable and they understand all of the care that’s being provided to them.
Great. Thank you so much. There is one last question here. The question is, “How does everbridge and International SOS integrate?”
I’ll take that one. International SOS and everbridge are strategic partners. Everbridge has an integration to the Travel Tracker, and that integration is bi-directional. [00:53:30] By bi-directional, we mean that, from Travel Tracker, the user can notify his or her travelers and local employees using multi-modality. For example, SMS email, voice notifications, text to speech, and push notifications. That delivery is done by the everbridge platform.
In the other direction, [00:54:00] everbridge receives a feed of travel itineraries into the everbridge platform, so it allows the everbridge user to see where the travelers are, as well as local employees, ex-pats, [inaudible 00:54:13] workers, and be able to notify all of them in case of an emergency, or in case of a threat, to multiple modalities, again text to speech, email, SMS, push notifications, etc.
So [00:54:30] the integration between Travel and Tracker and everbridge, as I mentioned, is bi-directional, and you’d be able to notify travelers and local employees from Travel Tracker and from the everbridge platform.
With that, we are getting pretty close to the top of the hour. I want to thank all of our speakers for their incredibly insightful conversation today. [00:55:00] I think it was very helpful in showing our participants that the global risk management program solution is designed to help organizations meet their duty of care.
I also want to thank all of you, our listeners, for participating today. Again, as you close out, please take a moment to complete the closing survey that will appear on your screen. Have a great day, and safe travel.