Companies have long ignored or under-prioritized risk-management policies when it comes to ground transportation for their travel and meetings. Despite the higher probability of something going wrong while traveling by car vs. plane, air travel occupies the lion's share of attention and detail when it comes to developing duty-of-care best practices for larger companies. This really overlooks a huge risk-reduction opportunity within the overall travel strategy to, from and during events.
Today, ground-transportation risk has been compounded by the impact of sharing-economy companies like Uber and Lyft. This year has seen ride-hailing transactions surpass rental car usage among U.S. business travelers, according to Certify, and that trend shows no signs of slowing. However, it has been widely reported that drivers in ride-hailing networks are mostly "amateurs," raising questions about the degree of screening, training and insurance __ as well as the lack of thorough background checks or random drug testing. While taxi operators must meet these standards, a relatively poor consumer experience coupled with regulated pricing has caused taxi usage for business travel to plummet by more than half in the last two years.
Given this current landscape, planners should keep the following in mind to reduce risk.
Air = ground
If an organization has a duty-of-care or risk-mitigation program focusing on air travel, the ground-transportation behavior attached to that itinerary should be part of the discussion. Provide to travelers and attendees relevant information pertaining to car travel, and emphasize the importance of safety and trust.
Consider attendee options
Which ground-transportation services will your attendees likely be using? If you don't know the answer, send out a quick email a few weeks in advance and ask them. Follow up with recommendations for trusted providers or apps that have been thoroughly vetted.
Do your research
I'm not talking about a quick Google search or skimming Yelp. Rather, do some real digging and ask around. Ask yourself if you would confidently put a loved one in the vehicle in question. If not, move on.
Duty of care x 2
It's important to find out if the car services you recommend have their own duty-of-care policies. If so, you can almost guarantee a better, safer ride.
Are the drivers the real deal?
You'd be surprised at how many drivers outside of those working for Uber or Lyft aren't thoroughly screened, tested, licensed and insured. Find out if the drivers are full-time professionals or casual/part-time drivers. If the latter, that could be a red flag. Check out sites like www.whosdrivingyou.org, an initiative of the Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association, for more details on the position and perspective of professional ground transportation providers.
Make it simple
Meetings and conventions can be stressful. Getting from A to B to C is often an overlooked part of the equation but can make or break an overall experience. If there's a simple resource or app that can assist in coordinating attendees' itineraries on the ground, let them know __ and, better yet, offer to help them navigate it.
Ed Silver is president of iCARS, a web and mobile app that connects travelers with licensed, thoroughly screened executive car-service operators and chauffeurs. He was formerly the senior vice president of global operations and chief marketing officer for the Global Business Travel Association.