The KeynectUp Team got together with the On Call International team to talk risk management. How do your students’ usage of tech, or lack thereof, affect how you can effectively manage risks abroad?
How often do you see clients who don’t have reliable communication channels with their travelers? How about in the collegiate realm?
We see clients who don’t have reliable communication channels with their travelers fairly often. The collegiate realm tends to be diligent about establishing proper communication channels, but the method of this communication can span from individually contacting travelers to automatic alerts from our travel tracking platform.
How can a client manage risk when they don’t have instant communication with students?
It is very important for administrators to have each student’s contact information, including phone number, email address, and social media profile(s), readily available in the event of an emergency. One way On Call and KeynectUp help administrators streamline the emergency response process is by allowing admins to collect travelers’ contact information when they download the card—this will then allow admins to send messaging to travelers if needed. In other cases, if a client does not have instant communication with students, it is recommended to have a Point of Contact (POC) for each group who has the ability to help locate students. A POC could be an administrator, housing director, or professor and should be able to support emergency response through actions such as establishing check-in windows in the event of an emergency. Establishing a WhatsApp group is also a quick way to ask for individual check-ins and locate missing persons. In addition, we recommend students provide travel and contact details if leaving a program for the weekend so they can be easily reached in the event of an emergency. In addition, administrators could attempt to reach students through their email and social media accounts. For travelers in remote areas with limited cell phone access, we recommend for administrators to provide travelers with emergency satellite phones. However, prior to doing so, administrators should ensure satellite phones are lawfully allowed in the students’ host country, as some countries restrict satellite phone use.
How does lack of communication affect how you handle a client’s emergency?
Lack of communication can significantly affect how we handle a client’s emergency and can also compromise an organization’s ability to meet their duty of care responsibilities. Therefore, it is essential that constituents are reachable and that accurate information is relayed back from constituents. Streamlining emergency communications allows for timely and effective crisis response. In addition, sufficient communication flow also allows organizations to control the message shared with their constituents.
Do you recommend that your risk management clients create rules for their travelers on purchasing some sort of phone plan for overseas?
Yes, we highly recommend that our clients require travelers to purchase a phone plan overseas. This can streamline the communication process by ensuring students are easily reachable in the event of an emergency. Sourcing destination-appropriate phone plans should be part of a proactive risk-management approach. For example, some of our clients have implemented policies requiring their travelers to have an international plan—this may sound basic, but this is something first-time travelers often neglect to do.
How do travelers usually obtain On Call’s emergency information and contacts?
During implementation, we provide our clients with a Plan ID card that contains their organization’s dedicated phone numbers to On Call International’s Global Response Center. For clients using the On Call-KeynectUp solution, by means of a simple text message (and without downloading any type of app), the traveler receives a link to download contact information for On Call’s 24/7 Global Response Center and other customized program details. With one click, this contact information is properly formatted and stored right in the traveler’s phone for easy and seamless access during their trip.
How does a client who does not have the proper policy information affect how you can serve them in an emergency?
Despite all precautions and pre-trip orientation efforts, sometimes travelers still may be uncertain about what to do during an emergency—and that’s okay! We understand that stress under pressure can take its toll, and On Call is always prepared to help our travelers regardless of whether they have their program information available. However, having this information stored in students’ phones not only makes it faster and more seamless for them to contact us during an emergency, but it also ensures they have the right program information handy when they call.
Thank you to On Call team members Betsy Perry, Global Security Specialist, and Jeff Diamond, Account Manager, for these answers!