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avoid scams

Warn your customers – that’s your duty of care

Did you know that as a travel consultant, you have a duty of care responsibility to divulge to your clients any information about dangerous destinations, as well as unusual threats?

In a world where destinations that were once considered safe, become unsafe in the mere matter of minutes, this is a truly tricky prospect. Says Otto de Vries, ASATA CEO: “Keeping your customer informed before and during their travel is one of the areas in which travel consultants can add real value from a duty of care perspective.

“There are a multitude of sources that can be leveraged to keep you informed, in addition to eTNW, Travelinfo, the ASATA Facebook Page and even local online news platforms. Take it a step further and create Google Alerts for destinations to which your customers frequently travel, sign up for foreign travel advisories and subscribe to alert newsletters.”

In addition to destination advice, there are some common international scams that travel consultants can share with their customers, whether these are travelling for business or leisure to help them travel with peace of mind.

Card Scams

This one may seem rather redundant to remind South African travellers about, but often on our travels we let our guard down and forget that the same safety habits we have at home should be employed when we’re in another country.  Travellers should never let anyone see their pin so when they’re keying it in on a point of sale device at a counter or at an ATM they should shield their keypad as much as possible. If someone contacts them from their ‘hotel’ to ask them to verify their bank card details over the phone or email. Tell them to contact the hotel directly and verify why this is required.

Maybe selfies aren’t so bad

Your customers should be aware of helpful people in busy tourist areas who offer to take a photo of their group with their phone or camera. Just as they’ve perfected their pose, they may find themselves running to catch up with the guy who’s just fled with their expensive phone.

WiFi woes

With the price of roaming being what it is, WiFi is like the holy grail for South Africans travelling abroad who want to stay connected. But WiFi hubs can be insecure and leave travellers open to hacking.  Advise your clients to never access their bank account online while connected to public WiFi.

Taxi metre magic

Travellers using metre taxis must ensure that they check beforehand that the metre is broken as this is a common scam overseas. The taxi driver claims that their metre is broken and then charges unsuspecting travellers a ridiculous amount on arrival. Check carefully the amount given to the taxi driver and the change received so that you are not swindled after the fact by a taxi driver who claims that you only gave him a certain amount so do not require change.

Too good to be true

As with everything, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Counsel your clients to verify travel deals they ‘find’ on Facebook and other online platforms that offer holidays at prices that are unrealistic. Remind them that cheaper is not necessarily better and that the outcome of being duped by a travel scammer is that they will be left with no recourse, and no holiday. One of the reasons they entrust their travel plans with a bona fide travel consultant is so that they can travel with peace of mind.

 

risk management

Protecting the mobile workforce – International SOS

As corporate travel continues to increase, there seems to be a discrepancy between the perceived travel risk outlook for travellers and the actual risks expected to increase this year.

Results of a survey conducted by International SOS and IPSOS show that 61% of respondents feel that the travel risk have increased for Sub-Saharan Africa over the past year and 72% indicated that travel risks have increased globally. Also, 57% feel that travel risks will continue to increase over the remainder of the year.

The results of the survey was presented as a recent workshop hosted by International SOS and according to the results respondents perceive the top five travel risks to relate to terrorism, civil unrest, extreme weather events, petty crime and natural disasters.

On the contrary however, International SOS says the reality is actually quite the opposite with the top five travel risk factors for 2017 including stomach and gastrointestinal problems, road accidents, inadequate healthcare, flu and non-infectious diseases.

When it comes to the biggest challenges in protecting travellers,  49% of respondents indicated that educating travellers on travel risks was their biggest challenge,  47% said that communication with their travellers during crises was a top challenge and 42% said tracking employee travel  was a major obstacle.

In light of these challenges companies have indicated that they have either reinforced travel security measures for their travellers, updated their travel risk policy, introduced pre-trip advisory emails, implemented travel safety training or implemented programmes to locate travellers.

According to International SOS, in an effort to protect travellers businesses should consider access to advice that is impartial and that can offer a professional assessment on travel risk to specific locations, risk assessments that a profile and itinerary specific, training of travelling staff, identification of key indicators of deterioration and the ability to rapidly and effectively communicate with travellers.

Another key point touched on by International SOS is the rise of mental health in the workplace. International SOS points out that it is increasingly important for organisations to consider the well-being of their mobile workforce.   

In response to this growing need, International SOS, has partnered with Workplace Options (WPO), to provide a seamless service of rapid response psychological support where it is needed, alongside its health and security advice and on the ground support prior to and during a business trip or expatriation.  The global short term counselling service is also extended to managers, local employees and families and can be provided in over 60 languages.

The counselling method is tailored to a mobile workforce: phone, videocall or face to face with support in over 60 languages. The assessment covers the presenting issue, supporting problems, support systems, coping strategies, background information, and a risk assessment and the outcome is a plan that covers the short-term focus including goals agreed upon with the participant.

safety

Travel with Peace of Mind: Advice

Safety and security at travel gateways is currently a hot topic. If travelling with peace of mind, is on your mind, check out this sound advice from former CIA agent, Jason Hanson:

1. Do your research before you go.

Hanson recommends taking advantage of the internet, by doing as much research on a destination when planning and before departing on your trip.

However, he urges travellers to focus on local government websites and not to believe everything they read on the big World Wide Web.

2. Digitise important documents and carry them on a secure USB

Thought USBs were out of date. No, says Hanson. While making copies of travel and other important documents, he advises travellers to hold digital copies on a USB device.

3. Grab a higher floor and an extra key at your hotel

Even when travelling solo, Hanson advises travellers not to let it show. According to Hanson, an easy way to trick unsavoury characters into thinking you aren’t an easy, solo target is to request an extra key at the front desk. Also, since most crimes happen on the lower floors, Hanson suggests snagging a room on the third floor or higher.

4. Skip the hotel safe

Hanson strongly advises against using hotel safes. “I never leave my passport, or my wife’s passport, or anything of value in the hotel room. Hotel safes are not of good quality and almost anyone working in the hotel could have the bypass code to unlock the room safe.”

5. Skip the hanging ‘hidden’ wallet

Forget the hanging neck wallets says Hanson. These hanging neck wallets are so recognisable these days that, like purse straps, robbers can pick them out of a crowd, and with a swift snip – wamp! – your secure neck wallet slips.

Instead, Hanson suggests a hidden wallet that can attach to your belt and tuck into the inside of your pant leg; he also recommends finding a wallet that has RFID protection that prevents your credit cards’ information from being stolen magnetically.

6. Snag a doorstopper alarm

Another cool safety tool that Hanson recommends, for both domestic and international travel, is a handy-dandy doorstopper alarm. You simply wedge it in your hotel room door when you go to sleep, and if anyone tries to break into the room, it sounds an alarm.

7. Keep your lips sealed when it comes to travel plans

However exciting your trip may be, Hanson advises to keep mum about the finer details of the trip. He says that whenever he travels, he treats his travel plans like top secret information, only divulging where he’s been when he’s back from a trip. Why? Because you never know who is listening – or reading.

8. Be one step ahead of scammers

Be prepared. Know the typical travel scams played in the area and avoid any situations where you could be played like a fool. Sometimes the consequence can be more severe than just getting your wallet stolen. It again comes down to doing your research.

9. Act as much like a local as you can

Get down like a local. According to Hanson acting like the ‘virgin’ tourist is what places the biggest target on your back while travelling and he said sticking out like a sore thumb. Hanson believes it is important to try and look and act like as much of a local as possible. Thus, respect the customs and culture wherever you are; don’t expect people to speak English, don’t become rowdy, dress appropriately, be polite and walk with confidence. He also suggests studying your routes and transportation options before you leave the hotel; but if you do need to peep at the map, no worries.

10. Grab taxis from reputable sources

Hanson urges travellers to use their judgement and if they want to be extra cautious to only using taxis and car services provided by the hotels. With the rise of peer-to-peer services like AirBnb, Uber and Lyft sweeping through the travel landscape, the once easily recognisable lines of safety have become a bit blurred.

Source: The New Zealand Herald

Cheaper ain’t necessarily more cheerful…

Don’t you just hate them? Those self-entitled Generation Y whizz kids who are taking the workplace by storm and spend half their lives on their phones. It’s the generation everyone loves to hate. But if there is one important thing we can learn from them, it’s their ability to place importance on and find a healthy work-life balance.

And of course nothing impacts on a healthy work-life balance quite as much as business travel. As a business traveller, you’ve probably racked up those miles flitting from airport to airport, continent to continent on behalf of your company.

You cross time zones, get barely any sleep, gain a little weight while eating on the go and give up your precious weekends for that deal that nobody else could seal. While you’re making these sacrifices, most companies are focusing their attention on tightening their travel policy to save costs, sometimes leaving you wondering if they truly understand the hardships of corporate travel.

Cost-saving measures are often thought about in a rather one-dimensional way. Simply put, by reducing supplier costs, requiring you travel in Economy Class or booking at lower graded hotels.

But what about the hidden costs that arise as a result of introducing a travel policy that cuts costs to the bare bones. The serious impact on your productivity after 14 hours spent with your knees around your chin in economy class. The dissatisfaction you may feel at being forced to travel in this way and your propensity to stay engaged, involved and in fact employed at that company.

Do you feel unappreciated? Are you headed for burnout as you rack up those miles? And are you looking for other opportunities at a corporate whose travel policy takes into account your business travel wellness or one where you wouldn’t have to travel at all?

All is not lost though…Your first course of action should be to talk to your travellers and ASATA TMC to assess the hidden costs your travel policy could have if it is not taking into account the wellness of your business traveller.

Your travelling employees are a valuable tool to your firm’s productivity and a traveller-friendly policy that reduces travel friction as much as possible within a reasonable cost framework can be a win-win for all parties.  Let your ASATA TMC show you how…

Cheaper ain’t necessarily more cheerful…

Don’t you just hate them? Those self-entitled Generation Y whizz kids who are taking the workplace by storm and spend half their lives on their phones. It’s the generation everyone loves to hate. But if there is one important thing we can learn from them, it’s their ability to place importance on and find a healthy work-life balance.

And of course nothing impacts on a healthy work-life balance quite as much as business travel. As a business traveller, you’ve probably racked up those miles flitting from airport to airport, continent to continent on behalf of your company.

You cross time zones, get barely any sleep, gain a little weight while eating on the go and give up your precious weekends for that deal that nobody else could seal. While you’re making these sacrifices, most companies are focusing their attention on tightening their travel policy to save costs, sometimes leaving you wondering if they truly understand the hardships of corporate travel.

Cost-saving measures are often thought about in a rather one-dimensional way. Simply put, by reducing supplier costs, requiring you travel in Economy Class or booking at lower graded hotels.

But what about the hidden costs that arise as a result of introducing a travel policy that cuts costs to the bare bones. The serious impact on your productivity after 14 hours spent with your knees around your chin in economy class. The dissatisfaction you may feel at being forced to travel in this way and your propensity to stay engaged, involved and in fact employed at that company.

Do you feel unappreciated? Are you headed for burnout as you rack up those miles? And are you looking for other opportunities at a corporate whose travel policy takes into account your business travel wellness or one where you wouldn’t have to travel at all?

All is not lost though…Your first course of action should be to talk to your travellers and ASATA TMC to assess the hidden costs your travel policy could have if it is not taking into account the wellness of your business traveller.

Your travelling employees are a valuable tool to your firm’s productivity and a traveller-friendly policy that reduces travel friction as much as possible within a reasonable cost framework can be a win-win for all parties.  Let your ASATA TMC show you how…