What is Travel Risk Management, and Why is it Important?

By: Ray Rackham

February 15, 2024  

This article is part of a series of resources focusing on Travel Risk Management, including blogposts, e-books, webinars, and podcasts. These resources have been created by CIBT in association with GBTA, following the publication of a December 2023 study entitled Travel Risk Management (TRM) in a Post-COVID World. Download the full report here.

In the fast-paced world of business, where global connectivity is the norm, organizations frequently find themselves navigating the complexities of international travel. In this context, Travel Risk Management (TRM) emerges as a crucial component to ensure the safety and well-being of employees on the move.  

No event in recent history has reinforced the critical importance of TRM more than the COVID-19 pandemic. When the world abruptly implemented travel restrictions, travel managers scrambled to locate and assist employees who were on the road. As business travel slowly resumed, these same travel managers established protocols to balance employee health with critical business needs. Even as COVID-era risk protocols have largely disappeared, TRM remains a priority in the business travel industry. Companies continue to incorporate lessons learned from the pandemic. However, they are not relying exclusively on their own experience for guidance. 

CIBT recently partnered with the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) to undertake a comprehensive study of travel managers worldwide. Several key insights were uncovered from the study, the results of which can be found here. This article is the first in a series of articles for the CIBTvisas blog focussing on TRM. It provides the basis for a shared understanding of what TRM is all about, and why it has come to be of such importance in organizations.     

What is Travel Risk Management?  

Travel Risk Management can be defined as a comprehensive approach aimed at identifying, assessing, and mitigating potential risks associated with business travel, whether domestic or international. This proactive approach to TRM encompasses various elements such as health and safety, security, legal considerations, and cultural awareness. The goal is to minimize the impact of unforeseen events, ensuring a smooth and secure travel experience for employees. 

Health and safety 

In terms of health and safety, TRM involves meticulous planning to address medical emergencies that may arise during travel. This includes understanding the healthcare infrastructure at the destination, providing employees with necessary vaccinations, and having access to medical support services. By prioritizing health considerations, organizations not only protect their workforce but also avoid potential legal and operational ramifications. 


Security is another critical aspect of TRM, with travel and mobility managers actively monitoring geopolitical situations, local crime rates, and other security threats. By staying informed and implementing robust security measures, organizations can mitigate risks associated with terrorism, civil unrest, or other adverse events, ensuring the safety of their employees in unfamiliar environments.

Legal considerations  

Legal considerations play a pivotal role in TRM, especially when it comes to visa and immigration compliance. Navigating the complex web of international regulations requires expertise and diligence to avoid potential legal complications. This aspect of TRM ensures that employees have the necessary documentation to travel and work seamlessly across borders, avoiding disruptions and potential legal consequences. 

Cultural awareness  

Cultural awareness is a fundamental aspect of TRM, promoting sensitivity to the customs and traditions of different regions. By educating employees about local norms and practices, organizations enhance the travel experience, mitigate cultural misunderstandings, and contribute to positive interactions with clients, partners, and the local community.   

For travel and mobility managers working on behalf of organizations with a global footprint, TRM is not merely a checkbox on a compliance list—it is a strategic imperative. The dynamic nature of international travel introduces a myriad of risks, ranging from health emergencies and natural disasters to political instability and security threats. By integrating TRM into their operational framework, organizations can systematically address these challenges, thereby safeguarding their most valuable asset—their people. 

What are the essential elements of a good TRM strategy?  

The GBTA/CIBT study identifies five overarching functions that, when considered together, make up a comprehensive TRM strategy.  

Policy and strategy 

At the core of TRM lies the establishment of robust policies and strategies. This involves creating a framework that outlines the organization's approach to risk mitigation, duty of care, and compliance. By aligning TRM with broader business strategies, organizations can proactively address potential risks and set the stage for comprehensive employee safety during travel. 

Pre-trip processes 

TRM's efficacy begins before employees embark on their journeys. Pre-trip processes involve risk assessments, health checks, and ensuring compliance with legal requirements. Travel and mobility managers must meticulously plan for potential hazards, including health emergencies, security threats, and cultural nuances. Implementing pre-trip processes ensures that employees are well-prepared for their travels, reducing the likelihood of disruptions. 


Effective communication is a linchpin in TRM. Timely and clear communication channels are essential for disseminating information about potential risks, emergency procedures, and destination-specific guidelines. Regular updates and briefings contribute to heightened situational awareness, empowering employees to make informed decisions during their travels. Transparent communication builds trust and enhances the organization's overall risk management strategy. 


The intricacies of international travel often revolve around passports and visas. TRM involves meticulous management of these documents to ensure compliance with immigration regulations. Travel and mobility managers must stay abreast of visa requirements, processing times, and potential changes in immigration policies. This proactive approach minimizes the risk of travel disruptions due to documentation issues. 

Vendor management 

Collaborating with vendors is integral to modern business travel, and effective Vendor Management is a key aspect of TRM. From transportation and accommodation to visa and immigration services, organizations must vet and manage vendors diligently. Establishing partnerships with reputable service providers enhances the overall safety and security of employees during their journeys. Regular assessments and reviews contribute to a robust TRM strategy by ensuring that vendors align with the organization's risk management standards. 

Individual and organizational safety

TRM empowers travel and mobility managers to make informed decisions based on real-time data and risk assessments. This enables them to pre-emptively respond to potential issues, ranging from visa complications to geopolitical tensions, ensuring that employees are well-prepared and supported throughout their journeys. In turn, this not only enhances the overall safety of employees but also contributes to the resilience and reputation of the organization. 

In conclusion, Travel Risk Management is not a luxury but a necessity in today's globalized business landscape. Organizations that prioritize TRM are better positioned to protect their employees, mitigate operational disruptions, and uphold their duty of care. As a trusted partner in the realm of business travel, CIBT recognizes the pivotal role of Travel Risk Management in fostering secure and efficient mobility solutions for organizations worldwide. 

Travel well-informed with CIBTvisas 

An experienced visa specialist can help you navigate the complexities of border crossing requirements. Contact CIBTvisas for a quote today. 

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