Can travel risk be personalised?


A traveller’s unique profile influences all the components of an effective risk assessment.

Experienced travellers are often already familiar with the precautionary measures they can take to keep themselves safer. Those with additional language capabilities, previous on-the-ground knowledge or existing in-country networks are better placed to navigate cultural considerations or sensitivities.

On the other hand, past medical conditions can put a traveller at greater risk in certain locations, while a volatile security environment can endanger the traveller’s physical safety. All these factors can be built into a comprehensive pre-travel risk assessment, which will help you to calculate personalised travel risk.

A comprehensive risk assessment

The criteria for industry-standard travel risk assessments, as outlined by ISO 31030, dictates that assessments must be comprehensive, inclusive, dynamic and customised to the relevant human and cultural factors. Meeting this criteria ensures risk assessments can be integrated with security, operational and medical measures, and prepare organisations for all eventualities.

Risk assessments that consider the traveller’s personalised risk profile can reduce the number of failed assignments and ensure the completion of business travel objectives.

Personal profiles and their effect are crucial to understanding how comprehensive assessments quantify the risks associated with international travel. Factors ranging from age  or nationality, to current medical condition, all contribute to the potential exposure to risk for both the organisation and the traveller. These factors can act as risk aggravators (heightening the risk), or mitigators (lessening the risk).

A first-time traveller with an on-going health concern visiting a region with limited medical capability, or a traveller with poor mental health operating in a high risk and high-stress environment could place themselves, their team and the organisation’s operations at increased risk. In contrast, an experienced traveller with no underlying health concerns can be less likely to experience an issue.

The same assessments must be made for other personal characteristics, such as race and gender, which impact risk depending on the cultural setting. By taking into account a full range of personal variables, risk assessments are able to meet the criteria of being driven by human and cultural factors.

Personalised travel risk analysis

Personalising travel risk is an important step, moving away from a ‘one-size fits all’ approach. A generic risk assessment has the potential to put certain individuals with a higher risk profile in danger. This works vice versa; a local national with on-ground experience will generally produce a more permissive final assessment compared to a foreign national. By customising risk assessments to take into account a full personal profile, organisations can better prepare and account for a wider spectrum of risks.

Personal risk factors must be seen as a dynamic variable that change over time and in different locations, ensuring risk assessments adjust to changing circumstance. Personal experiences including language ability, location knowledge or risk appetite can all develop over time. Deteriorating or improving medical conditions also fluctuate over time. Risk assessments that take into account varying personal traits in different operational environments are more effective. Dynamic risk assessments are more instructive for organisations that operate in changing environments and with a diverse team.

Risk assessments have been aided by the swell of technology. Automated risk assessment tools like Healix Travel Safe look at personalising medical risk, and produce results in a matter of seconds. These tools can also securely store previous assessments, medical data and personal information, allowing the user to both expedite assessments while keeping data up-to-date, while also producing tailored advice and actions.

Hamish Janes
Medical Risk Analyst
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