Planning for security as a part of travel is definitely not a priority at many companies, says David Nicastro, CPP, CFE, president of Secure Source International LLC of Seattle. His company provides a range of services, from foreign due diligence to mergers and acquisitions to helping businesses with travel security. “For a lot of companies, security is almost an afterthought to doing the deal and starting to work in foreign countries,” he says.
That’s particularly disconcerting given that “many of our clients are traveling to places they never thought that they would, chasing business in emerging markets in places that can be very dangerous,” says Nicastro. He adds that even large companies, which may have good travel security policies and procedures in place for areas of the world that they frequent, tend to overlook the places they don’t travel to as much or where they are exploring future business potential. “They don’t know the environment and as a result they’re putting their people in harm’s way,” he says.
Nicastro says that companies interested in bolstering their travel security policies and processes need to be sure they are operating on current risk assessments of the nations their employees travel to. For example, he states, “In Brazil in the 1990s, ransom kidnappings were a very big concern in São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. Today, it is property crime.” So, to mitigate risk in Brazil, “the muscle and the guns are no longer as important as a program that is based on intellect and planning.”
When on business overseas, employees need to identify a safe, licensed method of airport transport and of transit around the locale. It is not uncommon for incognizant international travelers to walk out of airports and into unlicensed taxis or other vehicles, says Gruber. In the United States, taking unlicensed transport is unlikely to lead to any problems, but in some nations, these travelers become robbery or kidnap victims. In Mexico in 2011, for example, a criminal gang posing as taxi drivers picked up passengers and drove them to a secure location to rob them of their money, credit cards, and other valuables. Some of the abductees were sexually assaulted. The abductors only released the victims after they had maxed out the credit cards.