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  • Michael J. Padilla Pagan Payano

Travel Risk Management: Beyond Cultural Intelligence

As an individual deeply entrenched in looking at humans at risk, I have built businesses that are involved in risk management, transportation, events, and the travel industry. Not only as a business owner but also as a frequent traveler, I feel that I have garnered unique perspectives on Travel Risk Management (TRM).

With extensive experience spanning the cyber, consultancy, security, transportation, events, and travel sectors, I've cultivated insights into TRM that are both broad and nuanced.

In addition to personal experience, I encourage my staff to debrief us on their travel encounters, highlighting the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of how travel was booked, considered, managed, and executed.

This article delves into the often-overlooked complexities of TRM policies and procedures, emphasizing the necessity of surpassing mere compliance to uphold genuine duty of care. It's about comprehending and proficiently implementing a robust TRM framework.

Contrary to popular belief, not all airlines uphold uniform safety standards. While many assume meticulous adherence to safety protocols across airlines, ensuring seamless operations from cabin crew to catering and procurement, this isn't always the reality.

Allow me to illustrate this with a personal anecdote. On April 1, 2024, I embarked on EgyptAir flight MS 754 from Madrid, Spain, to Cairo. Despite common delays, this flight took an unexpected turn during Ramadan night. The secondary crew in aisle eight swiftly retreated to the cockpit, accompanied by the unmistakable scent of cigarette smoke permeating the cabin.

Similar cultural behaviors were implicated in the crash of Flight 804 in 2016, where a pilot was smoking in the cockpit. These incidents shed light on a broader issue: cultural norms sometimes permit the circumvention of presumed universal regulations.

This raises a crucial question in TRM: Are stakeholders taking into account these cultural intricacies? Do they address travelers' potential apprehensions or occasional lapses in airline responsibility and protocol adherence?

My stance is unequivocal: we must refine our perspective. While technology can provide assurances regarding protocol adherence and regulatory compliance, it falls short without human intervention.

The essence of TRM lies not solely in technological validation but in active reporting, monitoring, and human accountability.

Central to our business ethos is the recognition that humans are both the primary variable in risk management and the pivotal element in mitigating these risks.

Consequently, this series encourages reflection on the efficacy of your TRM approach. Does it genuinely mitigate risk by discerning which airlines adhere to rigorous management programs, particularly those that prioritize compliance while considering human factors?


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