How "Duty of care" is influencing the corporate travel booking process

Posted: 20 Aug 2019 - 12:35 pm

If your job requires you to book corporate travel for company employees, then you’ll be no stranger to the words “Duty of Care”. 

 

It seems a giant spotlight is (rightfully so) shining on the topic. While it’s up to the booker to ensure they are carrying out thorough risk assessments around security,  hygiene, natural disasters, and the political landscape at the time of travel, their accountability also flows through to their choices on services like travel options (flights, vehicles, etc) and corporate accommodation.

 

But the buck doesn’t stop with the booker, and there is increasingly a focus on the service providers to demonstrate what they are doing to minimise risk.

 

Have you done your homework?

 

As a provider of long-stay corporate apartments, Astra Apartments is witnessing a substantial and positive shift when it comes to safety compliance. In fact, many corporate bookers and TMC’s simply won’t book if accommodation providers can’t demonstrate that they have active, compliant policies and procedures in place.

 

When booking accommodation for business travel, including hotels, serviced apartments, corporate apartments, and private lettings, here are a few things (at minimum) that every corporate travel booker should ask. 

 

What procedures are in place to ensure the apartment is safe and fit for use?

 

Depending on where you book, the existence (and enforcement) of policies and procedures will vary.  So it’s up to you, as the booker to do your homework.

 

Risk Management plan

Ideally, you want the accommodation provider to have a risk management plan and register in place. This establishes a framework for identifying and treating/mitigating risks. By having a plan in place, service providers are limiting the chance of risk for their guests and themselves, assuming the information is kept current.

 

Which provides a great segway to the next point. Duty of care is not a one-off. So be sure to ask what the process is around regular updates to risk assessments and safety procedures.

 

Fire Safety Regulations

In addition, the apartment you choose needs to demonstrate it’s compliance with local fire and safety regulations. This includes things like smoke alarm installation and testing, fire safety plans. 

 

Secure Access

As a final point, when comparing options for employees, choose a building that has secure access. The benefits of doing this are two-fold. For the booker, you can actively demonstrate your duty of care, and for the executive, given they are being placed in an unfamiliar environment, this can help create a sense of ease when it comes to safety. 

 

Is there an accident and evacuation plan in case of an emergency? 

 

In the event of an emergency within a building, it’s critical that accident & emergency procedures are in place to assist in the guests' safety and well-being. The cause for evacuation can go beyond the obvious one of a fire inside the building or apartment. Your accommodation provider should have clear plans in place for events such as; 

 

  • Physical threat on the premises
  • A major power outage within the entire building; or
  • A guest injuring themselves in the apartment
  • Other major catastrophes.

 

Choosing a provider that has documented accident & emergency procedures will give you peace of mind.  However, you can go one step further. Look for an accommodation partner that can demonstrate consistent procedures across all their properties. A centralised, company-wide standard provides reassurance that guest safety is a priority.

 

How is safety information communicated with the guest? 

 

It’s one thing for safety procedures to be documented at the administrative level, but you need to consider how this information is filtered down to the guest. Are they going to be in a position where they know what steps they need to take should an unforeseen emergency arise?  

 

At a minimum, the emergency and personal safety guidelines should be in a prominent position in each apartment. However, the real value-add is when your guest is personally met at the property on arrival and properly briefed by the apartment manager. They can be walked through the procedures in detail so any guesswork is removed.

 

Who the guest can contact if they have a safety-related issue? 

 

In the event of an emergency, the last thing your guest needs is to be madly searching the internet, looking for contact details of someone that can help them.

 

When choosing a temporary home for your business traveller, check that there is an up-to-date register of key emergency contacts readily available. Again, look for accommodation options that provide your guest with a 24/7 personal contact. That way if they are unsure what to do, they have the comfort knowing they have a dedicated person available to assist them, any time.

 

Social proof

 

Astra Apartments focus on and commitment to duty of care is a huge plus for our business, as we have well documented, consistent procedures in place across the suite of 600+ apartments.

 

For us, it’s in the social proof. Because we work with all the major travel companies, who only partner with service providers that can demonstrate active, compliant policies and procedures. It’s our duty of care.

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