GSA’s Lee Whiteing joins Festive Road to discuss ISO 31030 in 2022

GSA’s Lee Whiteing joins Festive Road to discuss ISO 31030 in 2022

GSA’s Commercial Director, Lee Whiteing, recently sat down with Nicola Lomas of Festive Road, a consultancy working to create better travel and meetings management, to answer important questions on travel risk management and ISO 31030 – the new risk management framework for travel managers.

We have summarised the conversation below. You can also watch the full interview here:

Is travel risk management becoming more talked about because there is now a standard behind it, or is it because there is more risk?

I think it is a bit of both. ISO 31030 has been developed over six or seven years – it has been a long time coming to fruition. It helps to bring together a lot of different strands, but the pandemic has given rise to another couple of additional risks, such as security at hotels. A lot of hospitality staff have left the industry during the pandemic. There are some corporates that are worried that hotels may be less secure now than they would have been beforehand.

How should travel managers approach ISO 31030?

It gives travel managers a framework to help make sure they are mitigating risks within their travel policy. Historically it is an area where corporates have struggled to gain commitment and investment from senior management. One big positive will be they have a document that they can take to senior management that will be taken seriously.

What is the first step to becoming a required standard?

For the first year or two, standards tend to act as guidance and are therefore not certifiable. After that period, they will become certifiable. If an issue arises that is covered by the standard and corporates knew of its existence, that could potentially count against them in a court. However, if corporates can point to an incident and say, “we took all reasonable steps to ensure that your journey was safe and secure”, that is more likely to be considered favourably.

Does ISO 31030 help travel managers, suppliers and buyers, look at their program in a new way?

On average, corporate clients are talking about 2022 spend being roughly 50 percent of their 2019 spends, so corporate accommodation suppliers are going to be fighting for a much smaller pool of business. Suppliers can look at the standard and make sure they are complaint so they can come top of the selection list.

At travel manager or corporate level, they have a toolkit to make sure they have done everything they can to eradicate as much risk as reasonably possible from travel. It enables travel managers to go back to the business and get investment. It is far more formal now because there is a recognised standard attached to travel risk.

How complicated is ISO 31030?

A lot of it is common sense – things that we know we should do. The standard puts it in black and white. It says that a corporate is responsible for a traveller from the minute they leave their home until the minute they return to their home at the end of that trip – whether it is a day, a week or a month.

Even if your employees book something online themselves, if they are travelling on behalf of the business and the business is paying, the business still has that duty of care regardless of the route they have taken.

Could you explain the importance of accommodation in the new standard?

Accommodation is seen as one of the higher risk areas. When you travel by air you know you are going to be going through security checks. A lot of that does not happen when you go into a hotel, so it is regarded as a higher risk.

Hotel chains clearly do a lot of work around safety and security themselves. But what the standard crucially says is you can no longer rely on a hotel marking its own homework. It is no longer satisfactory for a hotel to tell you that it is safe and secure; the standard says you need to either evaluate that for yourself or find someone else to evaluate it on your behalf.