Ground transportation is a key link in any business travel programme – and the rise of ride-hailing services and app-based booking has turned this part of the industry on its head, offering travellers and corporates faster and more convenient ways of getting from A to B.
With this shift in usage have come fresh concerns around duty of care and how to ensure the safety and security of travellers. Travel policies have changed to take into account new methods of booking a ride and to help travel managers navigate complexities.
However, while most corporates have reviewed or are reviewing their travel management policies with duty of care in mind, many are still considering how best to apply these policies to the taxi industry.
Issues to consider
Building a comprehensive duty of care policy is by no means straightforward. Among the many grey areas that corporates must consider, there are some growing issues which need to be addressed more closely.
One such issue is data security. If the traveller leaves luggage behind in a vehicle, this could be a potential security risk for their organisation, particularly if it’s a laptop containing important documents or company data. This luggage will typically be harder to track and recover if the traveller has booked via a ride-hailing app, where drivers are working freelance and contact details are hard to get hold of.
Another is the rise of ‘Bleisure’ travel and where corporate travel policies fit in with this. The bigger companies, who are very aware of liability, allow for extension of trips for personal reasons but have made it clear that it is the travellers’ responsibility to make the bookings and manage their own risks on days on which they are not officially working. Providing this type of guidance is important to ensure clarity.
The question of where liability sits should things go wrong when travelling during working hours remains problematic though. Is it the corporate or the traveller who is at fault? Ultimately, all the corporate can do is make sure they have the appropriate checks and tools in place to enable the traveller to get about easily and safely, while keeping an eye on the traveller’s journey.
But as the desire for on-demand booking abilities grows, there is little knowledge of alternatives to the ride-hailing apps that have become so popular for their ease of booking. There are options out there which can offer a clearer picture when it comes to duty of care – before, during and after a journey has been made.
Consolidated networks, such as the one built by iGo for local taxi firms, give TMCs access to a pool of approved service providers around the UK and overseas. In destinations where local travel options are not easy to navigate or it is unsafe to hail a cab on the street, the ability to quickly access such a network can make a huge difference, keeping travellers on the move and mitigating risks.
Duty of care should never be left as an after-thought – and while on-demand booking is throwing up some challenges for travellers and TMCs, it also removes many of the headaches that both parties typically face when booking ground transport.