Business travel industry concerned over Middle East turmoil


The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the voice of the business travel industry, has released the results of a survey of business travel professionals on reactions to the ongoing crisis in the Middle East and North Africa. Of the 472 participants, nearly all (91%) are concerned about the impact of rising oil prices on travel costs as a result of the current political crisis – with nearly half (45%) reporting that they are very concerned. However, even with growing worry over the price of oil, 63% of travel professionals are either opposed to (25%), or indifferent (38%) to new government programs to financially assist airlines.

One in two travel managers (49%) said their company has been impacted negatively by the crisis, and nearly half (47%) reported that employees have experienced travel disruptions, including the need for evacuation. Of these, one in three (34%) have had to support from one to 50 employees facing disruption – and nearly one in 10 (9%) have provided service and support to 100 or more employees.

Travel managers have also undertaken a number of tactics to ensure the safety of employees. Most common has been making alternative transportation available (32%). More than one in 10 (12%) have used an external crisis management company. Overwhelmingly, travel managers say emergency contact information (70%) and worldwide tracking support (66%) are the most common elements of their strategic crisis management plans.

Additional elements cited as part of their crisis management plans include up-to-date destination and crisis information (59%), crisis and evacuation plans (44%) and mass mobile communication tools (29%). However, 11% of travel managers acknowledge not being aware of a strategic crisis management plan within their organization.

“The global nature of the business travel industry can inevitably lead to travellers being in dangerous situations. Travel managers need to have a crisis plan ready to go at a moment’s notice to ensure they can help get employees out of frightening situations and return them to safety,” said GBTA executive director Mike McCormick. “It is unwise for travel managers not to have a crisis plan on the books. To that end, GBTA’s risk committee is in the midst of developing a new ‘best practices’ playbook to advise our members in their own crisis scenario planning.”