International business travel has become a regular activity for many Australians as more companies sign contracts with international organisations, and multinationals open new branches across the world.
It can be both exciting and daunting, depending on how well informed the traveller and company are about the destination. No one wants to be stranded in a foreign country when conflict erupts, and no organisation wants to put its employees in peril.
A great thing about living in the technology era is that there are many apps and online options to help businesses travel smart.
Here are five key things companies need to consider to ensure employees are safe and prepared when travelling for business.
Keeping travel documents safe
It's vital to have important documents on hand when travelling. While a passport and personal ID are essential in order to exit the country, there's always a risk in carrying them everywhere. Apps such as CamScanner and Scannable, as well as online systems, enable users to upload all travel documents and have access to them 24/7. These are especially handy in case something gets lost.
Ways to handle money
About 25 per cent of Australians who went overseas last year, experienced money troubles, according to a bank report. The most frequent money issues are related to currency exchange and credit cards. A smart solution consists of prepaid travel money cards, which allow cardholders to lock in exchange rates and can also be spent when back in Australia. They are great for businesses to keep track of employees' expenses as well. These cards are really helpful, depending on the length of the trip and the allocated budget.
A detailed expense management app or software such as Expensify is helpful to record all the payments made when travelling. This way businesses can have complete control and visibility of the charges made on the company card and make sure they're accurate. This type of software will also assist employees when claiming business travel expenses.
Health is a priority
Travel insurance is crucial. Companies need to ensure they have an insurance that covers travellers both in Australia and overseas. Prior to travelling to high-risk countries, is essential to visit a GP for a health check. They'll be able to administer any relevant vaccinations and provide the prescriptions and medications someone might need while away.
Apps such as iTriage can assist travellers who fall ill or need medical attention.
Be aware of any travel alerts and warnings
Doing some research on the destination country and city to assess any possible risks is always a good idea. The Australian government has a Smart Traveller website with helpful advice on the current situation of every nation in the world. There are also travel management solutions that alert travellers of any dangerous situation in the intended destination even before booking anything. Apps such as Safeture also inform travellers on any social, health or environmental risks.
If planning to travel to high-risk countries, check with the host company to see what security measures need to be considered.
Become familiar with the local laws and customs
Every country has its own laws and being a foreigner doesn't mean that they don't apply to everyone — some nations such as the US have local laws for every city which need to be followed. It is essential to have a look at the laws of the intended destination and see how different they are from the ones here. Global Law is a great app to be up to date on the latest news worldwide.
Another good trick is to ask the host company or the embassy about their law system and their customs. For example, while it's common to wear shorts in Australia, other countries may have a more conservative dress code even out of business hours. The government's Smart Traveller website also addresses these differences.
In case some driving is required to meet with clients or to go to different places. It's always best to get an international driver's licence and be familiar with the country's road regulations.
Ross Fastuca is the CIO & co-founder of Locomote.