When Nature’s Wrath Alters Your Business Travel Plans

The recent devastation of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria pulverized Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, displacing hundreds of thousands of residents and racking up billions of dollars in property loss. These massive storms, as well as others, also wreaked havoc on corporate travel, crippling a good portion of the business economy by preventing companies from getting employees to their destinations.

FlightAware’s cancellation tracker reached the 3,000 mark the Sunday that Hurricane Irma hit Florida as airports closed throughout the state. But travel issues didn’t ease once the airports reopened, because there was still the issue of missing aircraft. According to reports, JetBlue didn’t have a single plane in the state of Florida and most other airlines cleared out their aircraft from vulnerable airports ahead of the storm. So, flights couldn’t resume until airlines flew aircraft back into the state. This meant that a large number of business travelers, in one of the most convention-friendly states in the U.S., were either stranded or unable to land.

This leaves us with the question: How do you keep stormzillas like these from throwing an oversize wrench into even the most carefully orchestrated travel management plans?

The simple answer: You can’t. But there are ways to minimize the collateral damage that the next big storm brings when planning business travel.

Travel Management Companies can help, as they monitor global weather conditions daily, so as to respond quickly when major disruptions to travel occur. These companies also receive automatic flight updates, enabling them to immediately rebook individuals onto different flights. Due to the fickle nature of hurricanes, which can force additional flights to also get cancelled, companies must investigate ground transportation options as well.

Here are four sanity-saving tips that might come in handy while traveling during hurricane season:

    1. Book flights wisely:

Choose an early morning flight. That way if your flight gets cancelled you have the entire rest of the day to find an alternative flight. And if possible, pick an airline with tons of flight options—the more the merrier when you positively have to get to a game-changing meeting.

  1. Must-Have Phone Apps:

Any app on your phone or tablet that displays a 7-Day Forecast (such as The Weather Channel) is a godsend and helpful when planning business trips. Don’t wait until a storm hits to start making alternate plans. Stay ahead of the weather system game and make your contingency plans as far ahead as possible.

  1. The domino effect:

Always remember that even though your flight lifts off in Chicago (where you are unlikely to get hit with a hurricane), chances are the weather is going to be much different when you land in Miami (where the possibility always looms). Be aware of the weather in all cities on your itinerary. Some airlines will even address customer service issues on their social media pages. JetBlue and Delta are among those that used Twitter to help passengers during Hurricane Irma.

  1. Allow for extra time:

For business travelers trying to get somewhere in unpredictable weather, one of the best suggestions is to simply give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going. While it might cost a little more to book a flight the day before or put an extra night for a hotel room on your AMEX card, but weighed against the option of missing a meeting with a client, it is an investment well worth taking. And if you do find yourself stranded in an airport, turn it into your temporary office.

Inclement weather will always threaten business travel. But by being pro-active in how you handle the situation, you’ll find yourself handling all the adversity thrown your way, no matter which way the wind blows.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) kicks off this week. And in the wake of last month’s Equifax breach announcement—in which nearly 145.5 million Americans learned their personal information may have been compromised, coupled with the government’s recent efforts to combat cyber threats—NCSAM’s timing could not be better.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) hosts the annual NCSAM and will provide online and in-person tools to engage and educate the private and public sectors about cyberrisks. The DHS will also offer mitigation tips and techniques in tandem with this year’s campaign, which is divided into five different weekly themes:

Week 1: Oct. 2-6         –Simple Steps to Online Safety

Week 2: Oct. 9-13       –Cybersecurity in the Workplace is Everyone’s Business

Week 3: Oct. 16-20     –Today’s Predictions for Tomorrow’s Internet

Week 4: Oct. 23-27     –Consider a Career in Cybersecurity

Week 5: Oct. 30-31     –Protecting Critical Infrastructure from Cyberthreats

But NCSAM’s nationwide events are not limited to those themes and will cover topics that run the cybersecurity gamut through formats like workshops, webinars, twitter chats and conferences – some of which can be livestreamed. One major highlight will be the day-long global launch of NCSAM’s international adoption on Oct. 3 in Washington D.C. Featured speakers at other events include FTC Acting Chairman Maureen Ollhausen, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Rob Joyce, Senate Homeland Security Chair Ron Johnson, and Palo Alto Networks CEO Mark McLaughlin. Visit here for an event calendar.

NCSAM is part of the ongoing DHS cybersecurity awareness program, Stop.Think.Connect., which began in 2009 as part of President Obama’s Cyberspace Policy Review. Non-profit organizations, government agencies, colleges and universities are encouraged to join Stop.Think.Connect. as “partners,” while individuals can become “friends” to engage their respective communities and memberships. The program also offers handy toolkits organized by topics such as mobile security and phishing, and by audiences, which range from corporate professionals to young children and law enforcement.

Increasingly, the government is taking cyberrisk seriously. In September, the SEC announced two initiatives to enhance its enforcement division’s efforts to combat cyber-based threats and protect businesses, investors and the public. A new Cyber Unit will focus on targeting misconduct which includes market manipulation schemes involving false information spread on social media, violations involving initial coin offerings and distributed ledger technology and hacking, among others. Its Retail Strategy Task Force will combat fraud in the retail investment space, from everything involving the sale of unsuitable structured products to microcap pump-and-dump schemes.

In August, President Trump elevated the United States Cyber Command’s status to Unified Combatant Command, with a focus on cyberspace operations. The elevation, he said, will increase “resolve against cyberspace threats, reassure our allies and partners and deter our adversaries,” by streamlining operations under a single commander, which will also ensure adequate funding. In connection with the elevation, the president said Secretary of Defense James Mattis would examine “the possibility of separating United States Cyber Command from the National Security Agency” and will eventually announce recommendations.

Community, Diversity Spotlighted at RIMS Canada

TORONTO—The 2017 RIMS Canada Conference quickly found its groove on Monday morning, kicking off the annual conference with performances by a choir of local schoolchildren and an opening session centered on the theme of community.

Focusing first on the RIMS community, the RIMS Canada Council announced its top honors for accomplishment in the risk management field. RCC Chair Rieneke Lips presented the Fred H. Bossons Award—given to the risk management professional earning the highest average mark on the three examinations required to attain the Canadian Risk Management (CRM) designation—to Deborah Moor, vice president of HIIG Underwriters Agency (Canada) Ltd.

In recognition of outstanding contributions to the risk management profession, Christina Gardiner, president of the RIMS Ontario chapter (ORIMS), and Val Fox, special advisor to ORIMS, presented the Donald M. Stuart Award to Tony Lackey, director of risk and insurance services for Carleton University in Ottawa. Lackey has not only managed the university’s risk management program and developed and implemented its annual enterprise risk assessment process, but has been deeply involved in the education of other risk managers. Indeed, after obtaining his Associate from the Insurance Institute of Canada (AIIC now CIP) and helping forge the relationship between his university and RIMS to promote and administer CRM programming, he became an instructor, teaching the CRM course at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business.

In his opening keynote, workplace diversity expert Ted Childs shifted the focus from community to an exploration of the human and strategic imperatives of fostering and maintaining diversity programs. Childs, who oversaw such programs and policies as part of his 39-year tenure at IBM, laid out what he called the “business context for diversity.” He noted that creating the strongest business depends on recruiting and retaining the best talent, which requires an enterprise-wide culture that actively works to ensure representation and advancement.

These goals, however, cannot be considered synonymous, Childs cautioned. “Diversity is the picture, inclusion is the test,” he said, explaining that anyone could likely walk through a business and select enough people who “look different” to fill a photo. When that lens is narrowed by various levels of seniority, however, it remains much more difficult.

Building community builds business, Childs argued, and while this should be motivated in part by the obvious factors, from moral imperative to the competition for talent, he focused heavily on the impact to every business’s bottom line as well. “Workforce diversity is the bridge between the workplace and the marketplace,” he said. Customers want to see themselves reflected in the companies that serve their needs.

Should that be insufficient compulsion, however, Childs has copyrighted his argument in blunter terms: “No matter who you hate, you don’t hate them more than you love money.”

Drive Safely Work Week Campaign Revs Up in October

American workers’ safety on the road continues to affect careers and companies. According to the Department of Labor’s National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2015, transportation incidents caused that year’s most fatal work injuries at a staggering 26%; the 1,264 roadway incidents also marked a 9% rise from 2014. When paired with other sobering statistics—such as positive urine drug testing in the workplace increasing 5% from 2014 to 2015, as previously reported—awareness groups are reacting to combat these statistics.

The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) reports that vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death and injury in the workplace. In addition to the pain and suffering caused, traffic crashes cost employers more than $60 billion annually in the U.S. alone. Studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have concluded that 80% of all crashes and 65% of near-crashes are due to some form of driver inattention.
NETS is addressing fleet safety and the dangerous combination of impaired driving while at work beginning Oct. 2, when it launches Impaired Driving, its newest Drive Safely Work Week campaign.

The goal for the week is to equip employers with the means to improve awareness of the risks of impaired driving—operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, illicit and prescription drugs, and other substances—by offering tangible solutions employers can implement to reduce them. The NETS site, trafficsafety.org, offers an online toolkit which will be updated in October with Impaired Driving campaign activities that reinforce the program’s safe-driving messages. This includes customizable employer launch letters, fact sheets, pledge cards and interactive employee presentations.

While the campaign’s top priority is to save lives, it also sheds light on the major financial risks employers face when employees drive under the influence. NETS information indicates that the average cost of an on-the-job crash to employers is:

  • $670,000 per fatality,
  • $65,000 per non-fatal injury, and
  • $6,000 for property damage.

Impaired Driving is DSWW’s third campaign of the year. The safety week had been observed annually for many years, but NETS updated its structure to quarterly deliveries in 2017. Its focus will not be time-sensitive or tied in with certain events or holidays. This way, any of the campaigns can be tailored to the employer’s schedule, without consuming significant time from the work day, said NETS executive director Joe McKillips.

“With these changes, our mission remains the same,” McKillips said. “[That mission is] to improve the safety and health of employees, their families, and members of the communities in which they live and work by preventing traffic crashes that occur both on-and off-the-job.”

For employers looking to host a safety week, NETS suggests alerting employees up to two weeks prior to the week by email and posting notices.

During a scheduled Drive Safely Work Week:

  • Post social media announcements
  • Distribute employee fact sheet(s)
  • Conduct distracted driving training workshop and/or webinar using the PowerPoint presentation contained in the downloadable campaign materials

Founded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), NETS is an employer-led road safety organization comprising global traffic safety leaders across private industry and government, whose fleets range from fewer than 100 vehicles to more than 50,000.