ACCORDING to Wings Travel Management, a global travel management company specialising in the oil and gas industry, recent disasters and political unrest around the world mean getting from point A to point B is no longer a simple matter of timing and budget.
Begins Tony Sofianos, chief executive officer for Wings Travel Management: “We have noticed a decline in corporate bookings to countries that have been affected by political unrest.
“Travel to a number of destinations has dropped significantly or stopped completely, and even though corporate travel to the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa is on the rise, many travellers have concerns about the general security situation. As an industry, we need to ensure our clients, and their corporations, are better informed about present and future risks in specific countries and regions.”
The company is reviewing its current policy to provide travellers with more immediate information and security intelligence, from beginning to end of their travel itinerary.
According to Sofianos, technology will play an increasingly important role in providing ‘need to have’ intelligence.
He continued: “Using the organisation’s single global technology platform, Wings is in an unique position to provide travellers with this vital information through its own global SMS messaging tool.
“In this age of instant 24-hour global news, travellers face a difficult task in disseminating risk or impact information relevant to them. We can be doing this, and placing it in front of them, in location, to their smart phones.”
Howeve, he cautions that it must be targeted directly to those who are in, or travelling to an alert area.
“Travellers are not interested in having their day interrupted by news of a burst tyre causing delays at Chicago’s O’Hare when they are in the field in Angola. That’s just plain lazy and it diminishes the value that targeted relevant alerts can offer, but it’s about as sophisticated as travel alerts get from our industry.
“We have the platform for this solution today, and hope to have it in the hands of our corporate travellers by the end of summer.”
He added: “We want to have this information live to our operational booking teams across the world, so that when a travel request is placed, our consultants will have the information to hand on their terminals to relay instantly to the traveller.
“For example, our security partners regularly relay information on developing situations gathered from internet ‘chatter’ which could impact a particular location. At the point of entering the date and routing, our consultants will be alerted to potential safety threats and we will be able to offer immediate advice.
“As a service industry, we need to be talking with our client partners and exploring ongoing initiatives where we can improve value. We can tell you where your travellers are at any time in an emergency.
“Isn’t it a logical step for us to try and prevent, where possible, your travellers being in a dangerous place in the first place, through the sensible and strategic use of intelligence data?”
There are, however, basic steps that every traveller to volatile areas can take, independently, to better secure their safety and wellbeing:
* Be aware of the latest information alerts and travel guidance from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office prior to your departure, and heed advice. Insurance cover may be invalidated if you fail to follow guidance that is available.
* Carry a copy of your passport at all times. In the event of theft or a medical emergency, it will be easier for people to identify your identity and nationality.
* Ensure that you have significant travel insurance – not just for theft or medical issues, but also for acts of terrorism.
* While you are in location, ensure that you are aware of your surroundings and have the number of the British Consulate available on your mobile. When you arrive, make use of information or travel guides to direct you to the nearest hospital or police station in case of an emergency.
* Carry small amounts of foreign currency, preferably US dollars, Euros or Sterling. Traveller’s Cheques and credit cards should be utilised to cover the bulk of your incurred expenditure. Always have the providers’ emergency number for reporting thefts to hand.
” Ideally, book travel with a company that has on-the-ground operations in your country of destination and, as a minimum, ensure that they operate a 24-hour emergency service capability and have the authority to take the necessary actions to assist you in a crisis. Carry the emergency number with you at all times.
Wings are moving to a new office in Union Street, Aberdeen this coming month and will be demonstrating their range of leading traveller, and travel booker, assist technology tools at a number of events throughout the month of May.
Please contact Joanne Cheyne at Wings Travel Management on 01224 218750 to arrange a demonstration.
Wings is a full-service travel management company that has been servicing the offshore, marine and corporate industries since 1992, by providing expertise and customised travel management solutions that work for you.
Our specialised services are delivered from wholly-owned global locations managed out of four regional hubs: the Americas, Europe & Russia, Africa and the Middle & Far East.
With particular emphasis on the safety of personnel, a critical factor in today’s unpredictable world, our knowledge and extensive experience in emerging and challenging markets such as Africa and the Middle East have assisted our customers to better manage their travel programs.
For more information about Wings, please visit www.wings.travel or contact David Pitty at Tel: +44 (0) 207 458 7000.
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