Agents urged to plan risk strategies in their businesses immediately

Agents have been urged to implement risk management procedures in their businesses immediately, and warned failure to plan for incidents could result in “serious financial and reputational damage”.

David Atkin, founder of risk management consultancy Atkin Jones, claimed smaller agencies and tour operators often “bury their heads in the sand” when it comes to risk and safety auditing, but stressed “no business is too small or immune from experiencing a potential crisis”.

He said that despite many companies vowing to introduce protective systems in the wake of the pandemic, few had yet done so.

Atkin shared his views at a seminar in London, which aimed to educate travel industry representatives on the value of having risk management procedures in place.

“We are living and operating in an ever-more volatile and complex global landscape with incidents and disruptions to normal operations compounded by other external factors, such as geopolitical challenges, climate change, the current cost-of-living crisis and rising customer expectations,” he said.

“By understanding the risks and consequences when something eventually goes wrong, you can then plan for this eventuality, and sense‑check whether your response plan is adequate or needs revising.”

Atkin encouraged agents to study the risk and crisis management plans and procedures of operator partners.

For those packaging their own trips, he advised they develop their own safety management system frameworks, beginning with a gap analysis exercise where they consider the risks that might affect their business and assess how equipped they are to deal with them.

“Operators must have plans in place to control risks prior to travel and be able to respond to in-resort emergencies – agents either need to do the same or should know what their operator has in place,” he said.

“Larger businesses require high levels of planning and oversight, but agents and smaller operators can achieve an appropriate level of due diligence with a well-thought-out plan.”

He added: “Risk and crisis management often ends up as a ‘we’ll do it next year’ commitment because, like insurance, it can feel like you’re investing time and money in something that might never happen. But by making decisions upfront, a business will experience much less negative impact should the worst happen.”

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