Industry Research

Is Business Travel Giving Duty Of Care The Finger?

The Global Business Travel Association convened last month in Denver. More than 7,000 corporate travel professionals attended. The hot topic at GBTA this year was the “sharing economy.” The overall consensus from the travel management group is transportation network companies (TNCs) are here and we all need to learn to work together. It clarified how our industry’s pitch is being perceived as whining. At one general session, a CNN moderator called us “dinosaurs,” accusing us of being stuck in our old ways.

Our “pitch” to this group as a mark of distinction — a major differential — between our type of service vs. TNC service has encompassed duty-of-care. This is defined as “the legal obligation of a person or organization to avoid acts or omissions (that can be reasonably foreseen) to be likely to cause harm to others.”

Businesses employing travel managers are on the hook for the safety of their employees and that includes business travel. I am surprised to learn although many travel managers take duty-of-care seriously, there is growing momentum on the position that “ride sharing and on-demand is what our employees want, so that’s what they will get.” Thus, many travel managers have placed duty-of-care on IGNORE, opting to risk their employees’ lives.

From my vantage point, it appears TNCs are providing a cyber-hitchhiking experience, as they will not conduct background checks on drivers or vet them in any way. While TNCs will offer up options and/or recommendations, they will not enforce passenger insurance among their affiliates. It’s anyone’s guess what, if any, coverage an Uber or Lyft car provides the client.

To me, this is derelict and flies in the face of duty of care and an organization’s legal obligation to ensure their people’s safety. I wonder if the C-suite and/or those above the travel managers (who actually have exposure) understand they are LIABLE if they authorize employees to use TNCs and something goes terribly wrong. Do you think the travel managers communicate this properly to senior management? Again, I wonder because this is troubling.

What we can do is keep pushing our message because we are right. Sooner rather than later, we will be justified. The point has been well made that our technology needs to quickly catch up with the times and much is moving in the right direction, finally. We need to ensure we walk the talk. Make sure you are vetting your chauffeurs and taking every action to ensure safety. Place a higher priority on differentiation via customer service training and re-training (read the book called The Nordstrom Way, by Robert Spector – it’s excellent). Be creative, stay positive, and let us hear from you.

Related Topics: business travel, duty of care, GBTA, Global Business Travel Association, procurement

Comments ( 1 )
  • Richard

     | about 2 years ago

    Please the business industry has taken in uber and lyft with open arms they do not care if they have no insurance or child molestor drivers. They only care about the cheap and easy ride they get. Quick no planning just pick up a phone and push a button and in less than 5 minutes you get a car!! And the travel planners are heading their wishes and using uber and lyft!!!! Face it the industry waited way too long to get a fight against these tncs and now even the big boys are hurting. It will not be long before you see one or two of the bigger legal transportation services fold it is only a matter of time. As the smaller ones have begun to fold right and left for the past year.

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