Travel disruptions and unexpected events are all too common. Weather delays, infrastructure failures and natural disasters are just a few examples of what travel managers and travel risk managers face on an ongoing basis. In a world where information flows 24/7, it can be difficult to keep up. Now, social media is transforming travel risk management in significant ways, as real-time information plays an increasingly important role in preparing for and managing disruptions as they unfold.
Here are four reasons why social media should be in every travel risk manager’s toolbox.
It keeps travel managers in the know.
In today’s fast-paced world, there’s more pressure than ever for travel risk managers to always be in the know. During an unexpected event, travel risk managers must work at an accelerated pace. And the global business environment means any disruption can trigger a domino effect on a company’s mobile population. A new standard is being set: a shift from a reactive approach to travel risk management to a proactive one. While it might still be acceptable to get a call from a traveller when a disruption occurs, social media is changing expectations.
The flow of information has changed.
Reliable information about major incidents used to come mostly through official channels or through traditional channels like providers of security services. Social media has changed this, as news now often breaks on Twitter. With citizen journalists and on-the-scene sources, anyone can be an eyewitness and share information in real time. Relying exclusively on traditional sources and ignoring this new data source risks missing the first indication of an event. Travellers today are using all the tools at their disposal to travel efficiently and stay informed, which means travel risk managers need to stay ahead of the curve, too.
Social media is a critical bell-ringing tool.
Think of social media as a bell-ringing tool or early warning system. In the world of travel risk management, the only thing scarier than a critical incident is not knowing there is an incident at all. Social media can help travel risk managers understand how and where events are unfolding as they happen. This is especially critical in situations in which every minute counts, such as natural disasters, unforeseen delays and service disruptions. For example, social media awareness about a natural disaster may alert your company to extract a traveller immediately or to secure alternative travel arrangements. Even five minutes could mean the difference between successfully rebooking and getting a traveller to safety or inconveniencing a traveller and putting him or her at great risk.
Context is key.
While you may not make decisions based solely on information from social media, it provides context, colour and clarity around emerging situations. As situations develop, eyewitnesses share more content via social media channels, providing travel risk managers with real-time updates. To help ultimately, situational awareness is key to making quick and informed decisions.