Beware the Rise of the Thought Leader

There appears to be a new breed of “expert” creeping into the world of travel risk management. They call themselves “Thought Leaders”. 

Travel risk management is a growth market and in the aftermath of COVID-19, we are likely to see more and more people entering the marketplace as organisations seek to protect their travellers; once they are allowed to travel again. It’s an arena ripe for the Travel Safety Thought Leader to exploit. Potential customers scrambling around looking for the best people to advise them on the complexities of travel security, travel health screening, disinfection tunnels, evacuation plans, immunity passports, second wave pandemic planning, the list goes on and the Thought Leader has an opinion on all of it. The problem is, it’s only an opinion.

You can often spot the Thought Leader through their misguided posting of articles on travel safety, usually written by those with no knowledge of travel risk management, which the Thought Leader thinks are cutting edge, while the experts just roll their eyes at yet another attempt by someone trying to enter a space where they simply don’t belong. They also confuse their previous holidays and business trips as equating to credible experience in travel risk management, yet have never held a position where they have been responsible for the safety of travellers. They have never completed a threat assessment, never executed an evacuation plan and never seen the inside of a crisis management operations room; but they can probably point you in the direction of an app that claims to do all that. They will also tell you (loudly) that they are a Thought Leader, so you certainly don’t have to look far to find them.

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Travel risk management specialists, on the other hand, well, these are the people who quietly go about their work of creating strategies, which enable safer travel, getting people out of sticky situations and dealing with incidents as and when they occur. They know how to recognise and analyse risk, what’s needed to mitigate it and how to keep their clients safe. They won’t brag of their successes, because they know the next threat is just around the corner and the minute they lower their guard, they risk falling short of the high standards they commit to. Their job is to stay two steps ahead of events and they are always scanning the horizon, on the lookout for the next potential hazard.

Travel risk management is a competitive industry, but there’s a healthy dose of mutual respect among its practitioners. It’s also not an easy profession to master, particularly in an ever shifting environment of threat and risk. Fortunately for those looking to protect their travellers, there are some excellent providers of travel risk management solutions and they’re already working on what is required to protect travellers in the post lockdown world.

What the travel sector needs now, more than ever, are those with genuine expertise to step up and focus on the solutions that will keep travellers safe when restrictions are eased. We need collaboration and a sharing of best practice, skills and knowledge. What we don’t need are soothsayers, crystal ball gazers and those who are simply “playing” at travel risk management. The game is on and the stakes are high. It’s time to hand travel risk management back to the experts.

About the Author

Lloyd Figgins is Chairman of the Travel Risk & Incident Prevention (TRIP) Group, an independent think-tank dedicated to improving knowledge, education and awareness of travel risk management. He’s the author ofThe Travel Survival Guide published by Portico and often provides commentary in the media, making regular appearances on the BBC, ITV, Channel 5, Sky News, LBC and Talk Radio. 


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