Travel advisors everywhere must stay continuously updated on what is going on around the world. From travel warnings and alerts to local news events, staying up-to-date on what is going on will help you keep your travelers safe while they are abroad. Unfortunately, not everything hits the U.S. Department of State’s radar. That is why it is up to you to make sure you have all the necessary information before booking your customer’s future destination plans. Here are a few ways you can stay updated on travel warnings and alerts.
Tip #1: Enroll Travel Plans in STEP
Encourage or help your travelers sign up for the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrolment Program (STEP). The U.S. program gives the embassy access to sending you alerts whenever a security warning occurs in the location you plan on traveling. STEP is entirely free and is available for U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad. The program enrolls your traveler’s upcoming trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate giving you access to local information. The program will also assist family members in contacting their loved ones should there be an emergency during the trip.
Tip #2: Understand Travel Advisories Issued by U.S. Officials
There are two types of travel advisories that the United States issues, including “Travel Alert” and “Travel Warning.” Travel Warnings are more severe than Travel Alerts and usually occur when a country or location is actively dangerous.
Another way you can know if a destination is highly unsafe for travel is when the Department of State includes that country on the “Worldwide Caution” list. This list provides citizens with information regarding terrorism, political violence, and criminal activity abroad. It also includes areas in certain countries where such events typically take place. When a Worldwide Caution in place, the State Department advises, “U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance and practice good situational awareness.”
As you research the travel advisories issued in the country your traveling group is planning on vacationing to, use specified categories as your general rule of guidance.
Tip #3: Review Crime and Safety Reports
As travelers narrow down where they plan on traveling, make sure that you go over the latest crime and safety reports for that destination. These reports will indicate recent events, as well as criminal activity trends. You should pay particular attention to these trends and advise your travelers of any significant events that occurred recently. Each country should include a detailed list of all security alerts for major cities and whether travel is welcome.
Tip #4: Check Travel Insurance Company Sources for Updates
International incidents and increases in traveling abroad have motivated travel insurance companies to provide information on travel alerts and warnings. You can check these sites for additional information on the countries your travelers are planning on visiting or areas that are frequently discussed by your clients.
Along with checking these sites, make sure you have the proper travel insurance in place for all of your client’s upcoming vacations. This will also enable you to change tickets or get reimbursed in the case of a security event. Should the State Department issue an alert after travelers leave on their trip, you should help re-route plans to a safe country. Fortunately, there are typically available connections to secure destinations if they land in the country during a security warning.
Tip #5: Stay Updated on Local News as Travel Approaches
It is also crucial that you perform your due-diligence in traveler safety by regularly checking the local news. Follow the State Department on Twitter and Facebook for further safety checks. You can also download the free Smart Traveler app through the iTunes Store or Google Play to have relevant information on-hand.
You should also encourage your travelers to stay alert before and during their stay. Advise them to keep their mobile phone fully charged at all times by bringing a wireless charger and conversion kit adapter. This will allow them full access to monitoring local media channels and stay on top of security issues. Keep connected and provide them with any alerts you notice while they are away.
Tip #6: Have a Contingency Plan for Emergency Situations
Even if you are staying on top of travel warnings and alerts, security threats can happen at any time. Make sure you have a plan when these occurrences happen. You should also have an updated list of names and numbers to call for each of your travelers if an emergency occurs.
For additional help staying updated on the latest travel warnings and alerts for your clients, contact Andavo Travel.