Why Most Travel Tracking and Monitoring is False

Travel tracking and monitoring is often lauded as the saviour of the travel industry and the deliverer of “duty of care” compliance for buyers and providers alike when many do not actually understand one very significant flaw in most systems, that is both misleading and dangerous.

First of all, travel tracking and/or monitoring is not a Duty of Care solution, despite what is touted and claimed. There is no such thing as a single duty of care solution.

Secondly, if any business or travel management company knows where their travellers are for the majority of the time [within reason], whether they might be using spreadsheets, email or other ‘traditional’ methods, that is travel tracking! You do not have to have a map or visual to support the process. It might enhance the functionality but it is not mandatory.

Consider This…

If the majority of business travel occurs within a 3-5 day period, how much of that time is actually spent communing from location to another?

If the duration of the commute/flight is over a couple of hours, what percentage of the trip is dedicated to the airport arrival/departure process and actual flying time?

If on top of all this, your method, tool, system or service is not tracking the actual location of your traveller in real time, that is minute by minute, then you have a significant hole in your visibility! Most systems travel tracking systems track flight schedules, time of departure, time of arrival etc. That is not tracking, that is scheduling.

Over 50% of your actual travel could be unmonitored as your traveller is not tracked in real time. They are tracked, after the fact, but so to does a boarding pass and email. This is why most travel tracking and monitoring systems produce a significant period of false reporting and do not account for variables such as a flight diversion, extended transit or grounding or a missing aircraft.

Example #1

A business traveller going to Singapore from Melbourne on business has an overall flight time of approximately 16 hours and 30 minutes. If they are only going for a couple of days of business, they have approximately 72 hours of travel in total. 23% of the journey is taken up with just flying, provided the times are exact for departure, time of flight and arrival. This does not also include likely commute times, airport processing, checkin and the like.

If the travel tracking service is schedule and itinerary based, the next checkpoint or gateway will be the hotel and/or office location. What happens for the time/s when the traveller is not at either the hotel nor office? More commuting time not accounted for.

How do you then provide information, updates, alerts and intervention for a traveller [or all of your travellers] that you don’t actually know their location? You over communicate and just push everything that occurs in they country or city. This is what nearly all travel alert systems do as a result, and buyers think this is travel tracking and monitoring. It is not.

Melbourne to Singapore.Travel Tracking.Intelligent Travel

Example #2

A business traveller going to Los Angeles from Sydney on business has an overall flight time of approximately 27 hours and 20 minutes. If they are only going for a few days of business, they have approximately 96 hours of travel in total. 28% of the journey is taken up with just flying, provided the times are exact for departure, time of flight and arrival. This does not also include likely commute times, airport processing, checkin and the like.

You should now be able to see the significant impact and false expectation set by travel tacking and monitoring, when practically applied.

This also assumes that every single journey, person and flight is tracked, even though it is flawed.

Sydney to Los Angeles.Travel Tracking.Intelligent Travel

The Danger of Half-Measures

Any time you assume or confirm there is a threat that needs to be mitigated, but fail to adequately address or comprehensively manage that threat, you expose yourself and your business to liability and threats of its own. Travel tracking is a perfect example of this. Possible threat, inconsistent surveillance or mitigation.

Individuals, that includes travellers, travel/risk managers and providers must understand and disclose the limitations or shortfalls of any systems. Failure to do so is in itself a liability, which may not be detected until confronted by claims arising from this shortfall.

If you employ any system, that has 10-50% of unmonitored/tracked activity, with less than 100% subscription, you don’t have a defensible risk management or health and safety system. 

It’s time to check, document and disclose to your stakeholders the strengths and weaknesses of your travel tracking or monitoring systems now, rather then wait for legal calls to demonstrate these processes in the event of misadventure. You might not have perfection, but don’t convince yourself or your clients that you do when in fact it can be demonstrated that you do not.

Tony Ridley, CEO @ Intelligent Travel