Business events are an important part of many companies’ yearly calendars, yet planning for employees to attend these events can be a challenge for travel managers. The travel arrangements associated with MICE bookings – corporate events that can be categorized as meetings, incentives, conferences or exhibitions – are often very disjointed and difficult to collect into one place to support proper pre-trip risk management, which includes securing visas, managing passports, and getting immunizations, alongside a whole host of other safety and security concerns to consider.
Once employees are en-route, organizations then have to monitor employees and the locations to which they’re traveling for additional travel risks that can arise over the course of a journey to a corporate event.
“The other challenge which creates risk around MICE events is that the traveler may add on leisure travel and turn the trip into a ‘bleisure’ trip. An organization needs to develop a policy around bleisure trips, and how issues and incidents will be handled that are not technically part of the business travel portion,” explained risk management firm WorldAware. “For example, if something happens to the traveling companion, how is that handled? What will or will not be covered from an assistance and insurance perspective needs to be clear for both the traveler and the organization.”
To untangle the web of travel risks that come with MICE bookings, WorldAware has released a white paper titled, ‘Risk Management of Meetings and MICE Travel.’ This free-to-download resource examines business approaches to travel safety through specialized Travel Risk Management (TRM) practices, while highlighting key data that informs risk management for MICE travel and providing proven methodologies for identifying and mitigating specialized risk areas related to corporate travel.
One problem organizations face when planning MICE bookings is that the associated travel data sits in and across a number of provider systems, which in many cases have not been built to easily export or share the data, according to WorldAware. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that travelers oftentimes book travel outside the organization’s travel management program. Many times, family members are also traveling, which further complicates the collection of data, while special deals may likewise be provided when purchasing travel from the event site to side excursions or extensions to travelers’ stays.
Many organizations have a Travel Risk Management (TRM) program in place for transient traveler (normal business travel), but lack the policy and processes to capture MICE travel. “If they do capture the MICE travel data, then the MICE traveler gets the same level of pre-travel and en-route travel support as the normal business traveler. If they don’t capture the MICE travel data, then these travelers tend to get little or no health and safety support until something bad happens.”
Getting employees to a meeting or event safely is further complicated when corporate travel managers are also in charge of organizing that event.
“Typically, corporate travel managers are not trained in meetings and events risk management. As such, many of the standard risk management practices may not be applied due to lack of knowledge around myriad areas, such as venue contracts, food and beverage, third-party services, alcohol, lodging contracts, local ordinances, and excluded activities,” said WorldAware.
In light of these challenges, the ‘Risk Management of Meetings and MICE Travel’ white paper outlines key risk management strategies organizations can employ to get their employees from point A to point B safely.
“If an organization does not have a professional meeting planner, then either they should encourage an internal resource (travel or risk manager) to get trained and certified, or contract with a professional risk or security management company to support the specialized security vetting that needs to take place,” WorldAware told Insurance Business, explaining that the lack of planner knowledge and training around risk management is the number one reason gaps in risk management exist.
“It may not be realistic to expect a meeting planner to have the subject matter expertise to do a thorough security vetting for a venue or facility, so this is when having strong partnerships in place can be beneficial. We also encourage any planner to reach out to their travel management colleagues to understand what type of similar services are being offered as part of a transient traveler risk management offering. There is no reason these could not potentially transfer or be leveraged to support a meeting or event.”
If a company is going to take this route, and leverage a meeting planner, they need to make sure that the planner has the proper M&E Risk Management training to deliver on this task confidently.
Another major gap in risk management exists because organizations can be missing a robust risk assessment for the MICE event. Many times, organizations focus on the main event and do not address other activities or events that are occurring in conjunction with that event, such as
golf outings, team building courses, and volunteer projects.
With a majority of travel managers agreeing that risk management of meetings and MICE travel is a growing priority for their company, there are several other risk mitigation steps they can take to help them meet that goal that are found in the WorldAware white paper. WorldAware brought our attention to one of the most crucial steps below.
“The most important thing an organization can do is ensure that travel around MICE events are explicitly covered in their travel risk policy. This policy will already cover the requirement to conduct a risk review for every ‘trip,’ [and] it will now broaden or make clear that ‘trip’ means ALL trips – business and MICE travel. If they do this, then the TRM program will cover the rest,” said WorldAware.
Download the ‘Risk Management of Meetings and MICE Travel’ white paper by clicking here.