After a career in the Los Angeles Police Department as an officer and a detective, Kevin Coffey knows a thing or two about staying safe while moving around urban areas. Now a senior consultant at GoldSpring Consulting, Coffey shares tips for keeping employees out of harm’s way when using ground transportation services.
In working with companies of all sizes, I see travel managers tackling security and travel risk policies in a variety of ways. Some simply communicate security tips while others rubber-stamp risk policy into their travel policies. Organizations wishing to be more progressive and proactive in addressing travel risk might consider creating a comprehensive and standalone travel risk policy.
The continued growth of international travel and business expansion into regions unfamiliar to travelers has led to the need for such a dedicated travel risk policy. The rise of the sharing economy for lodging and ride-hailing for local rides also warrant a closer look at how we’re managing traveler security.
Specifically on ride-hailing, what should travel managers do to evolve their risk policies and general approach to traveler security?
First, they should stay informed. There are a lot of resources available to assist in shaping policy and communicating successfully to travelers. Uber and Lyft provide in-app tools like emergency contact buttons. They also have security and safety teams willing to consult with travel managers, and readily available end-user collateral and videos. Uber shows travelers how to share details with trusted contacts and allow them to track their rides.
For more visual ways to inform travelers about travel risk, consider using short educational videos. Here is a compilation of sample videos from Same Solutions (including one about taxi safety at the 9:56 mark).
Other travel safety e-learning companies offering ride-hailing training videos include eTravelSafety and beTravelwise.
Second, travel managers can provide advice directly to travelers. Here’s a list of handy tips that can be shared today by email, on the company social network or even in the booking platform.
Before the ride:
• Once the ride is requested, wait inside a business rather than on the street for it to arrive.
• Share your trip details with family, friends or co-workers.
• When you approach the vehicle, be attentive. Stand tall and project strength by looking the driver in the eye. Use your voice and body language to indicate that you are on alert.
• Before getting inside the vehicle, confirm it’s the right one being driven by the expected driver. Check the driver’s photo, make and model of the car and its license plate number. Also ask the driver to confirm your name.
• Make sure no other passenger is inside the vehicle. Never share a ride with a stranger.
• Trust your intuition and best judgement. If you don’t feel safe when you meet the driver, don’t continue on with him or her. Make other plans.
During the ride:
• Sit in the rear seat directly behind the driver with your seatbelt fastened at all times. It is more difficult for a driver to reach you if you are seated there instead of in the passenger-side front or rear seat.
• Check that the child safety lock is not engaged on the rear doors.
• Map your own route during the ride and question the driver if he or she is taking an alternative route.
• Don’t share private information with your driver. Don’t offer up information that reveals you’re traveling alone.
• Have your phone handy and be ready to dial 911 if something seems suspicious.
• If possible, travel with some type of defense mechanism like mace or pepper spray.
Third, take a holistic look at your traveler policies. Does your organization have a standalone travel security policy? If not, consider adopting one so all travel security information and related policies and procedures can be accessed together. This can make it easier for travelers to understand the risks and preventative measures. It also demonstrates your organization’s attention to the safety and security of its employees.
Consider having a section within your travel security policy that addresses shared rides and ride-hailing. Include safety tips listed above.
If you’re not sure where to start, seek help. In addition to Uber, Lyft and similar providers, there are organizations that specialize in travel, meetings and event risk management. You can obtain assistance in constructing travel risk policies and procedures from various travel risk management providers such as International SOS and WorldAware, and independent travel consultants. Look for sources who help companies write and improve policies and procedures and/or conduct travel risk assessments.
Travel risk management is among today’s most pressing matters. Remember to stay informed, communicate with travelers and ask around for assistance.
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