September 23, 2021
 

Are you ISO ready?

Travel buyers should prepare now for the new ISO, says MYSA's Gary Hurst, while the GSA shares a handy checklist

Already it feels like the legacy of 2020 on the corporate travel sector is a brand new rigour when it comes to credibility and compliance. With the risk of every business trip having increased against the backdrop of a pandemic, never have corporate travel managers had a more heightened awareness when it comes to duty of care and their responsibility toward employees. But with the imminent introduction of the ISO31030, that awareness will quickly need to turn into action.

Set to launch in the first half of 2021, the ISO reflects the expertise and insights of each and every aspect of the travel sector, largely thanks to the Herculean efforts of bodies such as Global Secure Accreditation, which has been instrumental in getting the sector involved and engaged in its creation.

Once in force, the ISO will lay out in black and white what the expectations are in terms of assessing risks related to travel, be they physical, hygiene or cyber related, and how to manage and benchmark them. For that reason it will have an impact on everyone in the chain, from travel and travel risk managers, to TMCs, transportation and accommodation providers.

“It will have an impact on everyone in the chain, from travel and travel risk managers, to TMCs, transportation and accommodation providers”

Corporates, for instance, will soon need to ensure preferred hotel or alternative accommodation providers meet the highest health, safety and security standards. Even the commonly used terminology of ‘preferred’ will need to be revisited, signifying that a property has been accredited. Travel risk managerswill need to develop a streamlined and effective process to ensure the safety of their travellers.

TMCs will need to ensure the suppliers they include in their programmes provide the safest possible experience. The suppliers in turn will need to provide assurance that their guests and passengers will be safe and secure.

For the alternative accommodation sector, in particular, this represents a real step change.

Yes, we’ve already seen major steps forward in the sector in the last decade. From a highly-fragmented market (of highly variable quality and transparency) to the creation of the first ASAP accreditation scheme in 2013 and a gradual professionalisation across operators, to the growing influence now of credible branded owners.

But with the introduction of the ISO – and its creation of an international benchmark for best practice – operators must accelerate this growing professionalism or risk losing out to other types of accommodation providers. 

For buyers too, this new standard brings both challenges but also major benefits. Yes, it may require new systems and safety checks around booking travel. In accommodation it may mean a greater need to deal with operators directly in order to ask the right questions and triple check responses. But it will also mean far greater reliability, transparency and quality. In short, greater peace of mind.

 

What can you do to get ready for ISO 31030?

It can be hard to know where to start but there are several steps you can take to get you, your team and your company ready. To help with ensuring you’ve covered all your bases, Global Secure Accreditation has also created a free readiness assessment that includes a checklist of all the areas to explore ahead of the ISO’s launch..

Define ownership

If you do not have a department that specifically handles risk, where does travel risk sit? Do you have an owner or group of people who understand their responsibilities and scope? If not, it’s time to have these conversations.

Become risk aware

Covid 19 has brought duty of care to the fore and there is a high focus on hygiene security at present, but does this need to be broadened in your organisation? If risk has not featured heavily on your agenda before now, start to map out what it looks like for your organisation. What do typical patterns of travel activity look like? What are the levels of risk in the places your staff typically visit?

Learn about assessments

When it comes to assessing a supplier’s approach to risk it can be a very grey area. What assurances do you require from the partners you work with? If they self-certify their performance today it is preferable that under ISO 31030 you will need to ask for third party assessments.

Create a system

How do you communicate with staff around travel policies and updates? How do you ensure your staff stick within the guidelines you set? What happens when there is an incident? Do you have contingencies and reporting mechanisms in place?