THE MAGAZINE

The Business of Travel Safety

By Tzviel Blankchtein

While fighting back may feel like the only option for the traveler, it comes with the inherent risk of escalating the violence. Training is crucial to ensure that snap judgments, which must be made, result in the best possible outcome.

Corporate espionage. While not as immediately harmful as kidnapping, there is a chance that traveling executives or employees could become the target of corporate espionage. This is notoriously the case in places such as Russia and China, but it can happen anywhere. In one case, an executive from a cybersecurity consulting firm was traveling to Honduras to work on developing proprietary software in conjunction with the country’s military. While at a local bar, he was approached by an attractive woman who appeared to simply be making conversation. She invited him to meet up with her later in the week. He agreed, but alerted his company about the rendezvous. The security team had someone track the woman, which led them to discover she was working for a competing organization and sought to gain information from him. Making the traveling executive or employee aware of such a threat is important in protecting the valuable corporate information that he or she possesses.

Tracking

Tracking executives while they travel is a simple yet effective way of ensuring their safety with minimal training and provides a high level of added security. Tracking will allow the organization and its travel security director or CSO to know when and where the executive is at all times and quickly determine when the employee deviates from the prearranged plan. Tracking also increases the chances of successful search, rescue, and recovery operations if needed.

The simplest way to track an employee is by mapping out a preapproved itinerary. Having a solid agenda will allow the organization and perhaps even family members to know where the executive is scheduled to be throughout the period of travel. By adding check-in times to the itinerary when the executive is to contact either the organization or family members, timeframes during which the executive is unaccounted for can be minimized.

The obvious drawback to this system is that it requires the full cooperation of the executive and an acceptance of some regulating processes, which may inhibit freedom of movement when traveling. Allowing the traveling employee to miss one scheduled call is permissible, but more than that will alarm the security team. These preplanned calls may also present a cultural obstacle, depending on the executive in question. While not as much of an issue with mid-level or lower management, some executives may be uncomfortable with the idea of their every move being tracked and having to check in with security professionals while conducting business. Therefore, the security team must stress the importance of cooperation.

Another drawback is that no routine can be fully choreographed. Traffic jams occur, meetings run late, times are mixed up, and so on. A tracking system must somehow accommodate these eventualities.

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