As you and your organization look ahead to 2020, travel will almost certainly play an important role in your strategic planning process. In fact, business travel is increasing in popularity, with companies expected to spend an average of 6-12% of their total annual budget on travel and entertainment costs. Travel provides a valuable tool for securing and building profitable business relationships; however, travel also comes with inherent concerns about employee safety.
This is particularly true when it comes to ground transportation safety, as two recent reports have thrown into sharp relief.
The Growing Safety Concern When Traveling Domestically
Uber turned the ground transportation industry on its head in 2009. By inserting technology into the middle of the driver-traveler relationship, ride-hailing networks changed the very nature of the ground transportation experience. Unfortunately, success measures in the industry changed from safety and service to volume and price. As ride-hailing networks invested primarily in technology, the result was loosening standards for drivers and vehicles. As a result, the experience for business travelers requiring a mobile office, exacting on-time performance or remote visibility for multiple parties devolved dramatically.
Perhaps the most consequential impact of these loosening standards has been the severely negative impact to travel safety. Reports of sexual assault and murders have essentially become a regular occurrence, and many ride-hailing companies are facing multiple lawsuits over safety incidents. In its first ever safety study, Uber reported that there were 3,045 sexual assaults in 2018 alone. They also report 107 motor-vehicle fatalities in 2017 and 2018, with 19 fatal physical assaults over the same time period.
With all the various options available, many companies are essentially performing comparative analyses of ground transportation options on two key metrics: safety versus cost. Savoya understands the critical importance of travel safety, and in fact many companies consider Savoya a duty of care solution, thanks to a safety protocol developed by top-tier military, law enforcement and intelligence community professionals. Savoya’s Certified Driver Program ensures that customers travel only with drivers that Savoya has personally met, screened and onboarded, and with whom Savoya maintains a direct one-to-one relationship. As a result, Savoya has had zero reported assaults and accidents with injuries in the same 2017-2018 timeframe.
Savoya also knows that discerning travelers – including business travelers and high net worth individuals – require seamless transitions and uninterrupted visibility for their support teams, who may need to manage their itinerary from afar, making changes at a moment’s notice. At many organizations, in-house security teams may require full visibility of their travelers’ whereabouts in case of emergency. For this reason, Savoya has heavily invested in innovative technology for booking and managing trips, including real-time travel notifications and live GPS tracking capabilities.
Bob Pocica, former Chief Security Officer of one of the largest companies in the world, discusses his search for a ground transportation company that could meet his discerning safety and security standards: “One company raised to the top immediately, and that was Savoya.”
Safety and Security for Travelers When Traveling Internationally
The most dangerous part of any travel plan is the ground movement from one secure location to another, and it’s an unfortunate reality that some countries are simply safer to travel than others. Between traffic accidents, medical emergencies, extreme weather, and unforeseen events, security departments are hard pressed to address this weak link across the range of markets in which today’s executives operate, while also meeting their requirements for concierge-level service.
As part of its report on its Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, the United Nations has said in recent years that the world has not made any substantial advances toward “ending violence, promoting the rule of law, strengthening institutions at all levels, or increasing access to justice.” Based on the results from the Gallup Global Law and Order report, it would appear that citizens across the globe agree with this assessment. Gallup’s Law and Order Index “uses four questions to gauge people’s sense of personal security and their personal experiences with crime and law enforcement.” According to the most recent iteration of this survey, none of these metrics has changed to any significant degree in the past few years. In fact, some countries have gotten worse.
According to this Gallup survey, the five countries where residents are most likely to feel safe include Singapore, Norway, United Arab Emirates, Slovenia and Turkmenistan. Conversely, the five countries where residents are least likely to feel safe include Afghanistan, Venezuela, South Africa, Brazil and Botswana.
Savoya is purpose-built to ensure international travel safety, and you should feel confident that your executive will be protected and secure no matter where they travel. Our teams actively monitor travel warnings and advisories, and our threat and disturbance monitoring software analyzes over 200 million pieces of information per day from sources like social media and government feeds and matches any potential threats with the GPS coordinates of your trip.
For certain locations where an even higher level of security is warranted (such as China, Mexico City and Brazil) Savoya has a premium security offering called Groundwork. All Groundwork agents have backgrounds in the military or law enforcement and specialize in threat detection and emergency medical response; but unlike most executive protection agents, Groundwork drivers also have backgrounds in service.
“Travel risks continue to escalate around the globe,” states Savoya founder Robert Dobrient. “Over the last year, Savoya has increasingly prioritized safety and security, as there are certain locations and situations where we believe a more advanced security solution is required to fully deliver against the safety and service standards demanded by top executives and other high-level travelers.”
Safety Should Be Top of Mind When Planning Travel in 2020
Travel safety is a big deal. It should be top-of-mind for individual travelers, and it should certainly be top-of mind for businesses when making decisions about their employee travel. With all the available options, it can be tempting to make ground transportation decisions based primarily on price; however, this almost certainly involves a trade-off when it comes to safety and security.
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Savoya’s longest tenured employee next to founder Robert Dobrient, Ms. Gleason currently serves as Savoya’s Chief Operating Officer. As a thought leader in the travel industry, she shares high-level insight into research, trends and other new developments affecting the space.