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Global Preparedness: Plan for the Unplannable When Your Employees Travel Abroad

Editor’s Note: In collaboration with Paul Armstrong of Q11 Protective Services, we present the 3rd article in our security series. Don’t miss part 1 (Security Awareness Training) and part 2 (Emergency Action Plans).

The recent events in Paris were unspeakably tragic.

As a former member of Her Majesty’s Security Services, I fought on the front lines against terrorism, and can recall when London was attacked by terrorists in 2005. We never saw it coming and we, like the French, were a nation in shock.

As the news about the Paris attacks erupted in the media, many US companies struggled to efficiently account for their abroad employee’s safety. Some of the issues included not knowing how to effectively manage the incident, identifying employees who were traveling in the area, and executing a sound communication plan. Consequently, I received an influx of calls to assist companies that had offices in Paris or had employees in the area.

What Having the Right Team Can Mean

When I receive your call, I become your Incident Commander—someone to provide expert tactical advice, coordinate resources, and execute a response plan. In turn, you manage up and brief your Executive Team.

In one instance, my instructions were to safely return five traveling employees back to the US as soon as possible. Within as little as four hours, I had security ground operatives knocking at their hotel doors with armored vehicles waiting for them to be escorted. We placed them on a direct route across the border (before it was closed) to an airport in Germany and had them on the first flight back to San Francisco. Meanwhile, I was simultaneously feeding a certain Office Ninja information that I was privy to from the Intelligence Community.

That’s how it works when you have the right people on your side. The ability to confidently tell your employees and executives that “you have the right people on this.”

Travel Risk Management

When it comes to travel risk management, I strongly recommend companies sign up for a specialized software service which can easily integrate into their corporate travel booking. One such tool called Travel Risk Information Software (TRIS) instantly notifies you if there are any traveling employees within proximity of a significant incident, anywhere in the world. It also has the ability to quickly message all of your employees, provide them with contingency plans and urge them to call for SOS if help is needed.

For Office Ninjas that don’t have a Security FTE, this is the type of enablement technology that gives you peace of mind and can save the day.

Scenario Time!

Your CEO tells you that he/she is traveling to Sao Paulo next week and are concerned about security. Is it safe to get a cab to the hotel and then to the office? Can they venture to Rio safely?

Consider the worst case scenario:

Oh Ninjas, what a tender world it is we live in.

For all companies, it’s important to have a plan of action for when an international crisis occurs. Not if, but when (which is a sad reality of the world we live in today). For your traveling needs across the company, here’s what you need to do:

  • Let them check in with apps you can monitor from the home base. Facebook activates a Safety Check feature for when such crises occur, but you should look into independent software.
  • Consider enrolling with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). The US Department of State has a program in which Americans can receive the latest travel updates and information about the country where you will be traveling or living. STEP makes it easier for consular officers in U.S. embassies and consulates around the world to contact you and your loved ones during an emergency.
  • Research high-risk travelling areas and establish meeting points for your team members in case of a disaster.
  • Sign up for a specialized software service which can be easily integrated into their corporate travel booking like TRIS.
  • Consult with a security expert to see if you need to hire security.

With so many threats affecting global travel these days, it’s important to retain a trusted security advisor for international trips. Whether you want to learn know about local business etiquette in Jakarta or need lone female travel advice in Bangalore, companies need to keep their employees safe and secure at all times. Even smaller companies are leveraging my Chief Security Officer as a Service offering because they understand the importance of safety and security.

Until global travel is safe, companies and traveling employees need to have a plan in action. A well-informed traveler is a safer traveler and a well-informed and ready company is a safer company.

Do you have a security travel plan in place for your company?


  1. Hadn’t thought of this before. I have staff who travel, mostly domestic, but there is more international traveling coming in the next year. Thank you for the references.

    1. Glad you found it of interest Deborah. Let me know if you need any tips or help on this matter.

  2. Thank you so much for the article Mr. Armstrong. These are great ideas for looking into more thorough travel safety options. I’ve used STEP for some time but I will definitely look into TRIS; sometimes it’s just that one thing can save you from disaster (or worse disaster). Let’s all hope we never need it.

    1. Hi Shawn – congrats for using STEP. A good start.
      TRIS will cost around 20-30k year depending on # of travelers so it depends on how many travel and to where they are travelling.
      The system does a lot more though and I would be happy to talk you through it for further reference. I myself am trying it for the first time this year but from what I have seen its v beneficial.

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