Why the London Riots Created a Greater Business Travel Threat Than a Terrorist Attack

Introduction to the London riots threat

If you have business travel to London, you need to read this article. In this article you will discover why the London riots created a greater travel threat than a terrorist attack. We will examine the threat posed by the London riots and demonstrations, terrorist attacks and resulting travel delays, disruptions and changes. At the end of this article, you will have a specific understanding of the required business travel management response and awareness as to why this will happen again.

The London riots and demonstrations has resulted in one of the largest business travel disruptions of 2011.

London Riots and Demonstrations

The London riots and demonstrations have come as a complete surprise to many. It is not a unique event and certainly not unique to the UK. The scale, violence, fire and failure of the authorities is often something expected in other countries but the lack of preparedness for destinations like the UK is common and widespread. Therefore, the lack of preparedness and last-minute scramble to respond and the inability to avoid major business travel disruptions are widespread as a result.

Due to the footprint of disruption, many routes and modes of transport have been negatively affected. Simple commute from the airport, trains and ports to planned accommodation options have been altered and continuous review of hazard or threat assessment are required. Furthermore, travel support providers such as taxis, hotels, restaurants, emergency services an other basic amenities have also been affected, to varying degrees.

Travel and risk managers need to immediately identify:

Affected areas,
Degree of threat,
Affected and exposed (inbound and outbound) business travellers,
Arrival/departure points,
Safe and non-affected areas,
Mitigation or eradication options,
Cost of implementation,
Funds available,
Emergency support,
Accommodation options,
On-going or developing events,
Social or non-business activity,
Insurance claims and compliance requirements,
Cancellation criteria,
Resumption of travel criteria,
Extended event plans,
Travel alternatives (domestic and international)

The London riots have affected multiple support systems related to business and leisure travel. Any leisure travel disruptions will further compound business travel threats such as decreased accommodation options, airport congestion and increased public transport demand. Even simple actions like withdrawing money from an ATM will prove a challenge and compound the hazard/s.

The London riots have had a prolonged affect on UK business travel sector, far greater than the majority of terrorist attacks. Further affects such as planning and preparation for the 2012 Olympics will also contribute to the lingering affects.

A lack of planning and subsequent response capability by businesses could constitute a failure of duty of care, due diligence, corporate social responsibility, workplace health and safety or other related legislation.

Terrorist attacks less of a threat than London riots

With the exception of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, most have limited travel disruption and only affect a narrow band of travellers. Inclusive of the Mumbai terror attack, terrorist attacks typically have clearly defined threat elements (terrorist, bombings, gunfire, etc) whereas the London riots is a constantly changing and unclear threat. Most business travellers will be unprepared for such decision-making demands and lack sufficient experience to make consistent and safe decisions.

Most contemporary business risk management systems focus on location and plausible event threats, then seek to inform or prepare travellers for the best results to mitigate or eliminate the hazards and threats. Therefore, the bulk of business travellers will not be prepared or educated on how to respond in London, with such wide spread disruption and threats. Few will have residual knowledge from information and preparation for such events in other locations, considered more likely to be medium to high risk. Many of the supporting business travel management departments and managers will be equally unprepared and resourced.

A terrorist attack and other similar violent crimes would have a much smaller footprint of disruption, not affected such a wide business travel demographic, not affect business travel support providers so comprehensively or have such a prolonged impact on all exposed.

Routine travel delays, disruptions and changes represent one of the most persistent and probable travel risk management issues.

Travel delay, disruption and changes

Change management and the decision-making involved is one of the most commonly accepted workplace hazard concerns. This is equally relevant to business travel and business travel threats.

The instinctive and guided response of travellers to any delay, disruption or change can significantly affect the outcome of any spontaneous or new hazard as it presents. Particularly when this is the first level of response, before support options and resources can be activated or come into affect.

Travel delays have been triggered due to airport and airline workers unable to get to work, taxi drivers not able to refuel vehicles, hotels and staff overwhelmed, business travellers unprepared and convergence of business and leisure travellers upon all available exit travel nodes.

Access to information, at all levels, the ability to consume and process all the options and explore alternatives is imperative in this and similar travel disruption events. Crisis leadership will succeed more frequently than simple crisis management, to which are dependent upon timely and accurate information from all available resources.

Unfortunately, many will fail to fully understand the gravity of the events, the threats posed and respond or prepare accordingly. While many others exposed will chalk it up to another force majeure or random act that is just part of the rich experience of international travel. Courts, business travellers and peer review increasingly do not share this flippant view.

This scenario and lack of preparedness has been played out numerous times in recent history. Volcanos, volcanic ash affects, Japan’s tsunami, airport closures, airline failure and many others have caught business travellers and managers alike unprepared. This disturbing trend will continue.

Conclusion: London riots threat

You should now see why the London riots have a far greater impact and threat to travellers than you may have originally thought. We have examined the business travel threat posed by the London riots, terrorist attacks and resulting travel delays. You now have a specific plan for this and similar events and the required business travel management and response. This will happen again. Perhaps not in London, perhaps not a city wide demonstration but this kind and scale of business travel disruption event will happen more than once before the end of 2011. Review your plan and make the necessary enhancements now.

By And Large, Business Travel Is Not A Pleasurable Experience

Business travel has become so common that a considerable proportion of the corporate world of America is spending more time in airplanes and hotels than on their couches or in their automobiles.

According to a recent estimate, about 40 million adults in the US travel on business at least once a year to a location about 50 miles from home. More than 20 percent of the trips made by African Americans, for instance, are related to their work.

Those who do not need to travel frequently on business consider business travel glamorous and exciting. However, in reality, business travel is often arduous.

It is tough physically, tough on the family, and especially tough on the pockets of businesspersons who do not have the luxury of generous expense accounts to take care of their travel expenses.

In addition, those who travel on business regularly, quickly wise up to the fact that a stress-free and safe journey requires the smooth functioning of a number of interconnected factors, which includes the vagaries of the weather.

According to a study conducted recently, monitoring business travel trends:

– 58 percent of business travel is undertaken for association meetings and conferences,

– 43 percent comprising of business travel made by individuals,

– and 29 percent for corporate meetings.

The study also identified some of the most popular destinations within the US for business travel. They are:

– Washington, D.C.,

– New York,

– Los Angeles/Long Beach,

– Chicago,

– Atlanta,

– Boston,

– Houston,

– Minneapolis-St. Paul,

– Detroit,

– and Dallas.

Irrespective of what the destination is, business travel is seldom an enjoyable experience. Some companies will allow their business travelers the opportunity to enjoy their travel surroundings but this is usually short lived depending on the demands of the trip.

Business travelers, who have to make frequent trips, need special facilities to ease the hassles of traveling. Airlines and hotels are increasing the levels of services they provide in order to meet the growing demands of business travelers:

Usually, business travelers research fares on their own and make their reservations online. According to a survey, it was found that only 32 percent of corporate travelers used the services of travel agents for their reservation needs, while the rest, 68 percent, preferred using the internet or online services to plan at least some part of their business traveling arrangements.

Business travelers are usually technologically conversant; hence, choose to handle all their traveling arrangements through the Internet, limiting the necessity of having to interact with travel agents and professionals dealing with customer service.

Most tourism related sites offer one-stop travel facilities for reservations of flights, booking rooms in hotels, and providing transportation on the ground.

Major airlines like Delta and American have included travel-friendly features like locating cheap fares, finding economical hotel accommodation, and hiring cars on a rental basis inexpensively on their websites.

Travelers, thus, can make arrangements for an entire business trip, which includes seating preferences, confirming special food requests, and a text message or e-mail verifying their flight status and information about the departure timings with a few clicks of the mouse button.
Most of these sites provide boarding passes that can be printed out and online check-ins within 24 hours of the departure of the flight.

At the airport, those travelers in a hurry can take advantage of check-in kiosks in order not to have to wait in long lines, and get their boarding passes and their seating information.

Frequent Flyer Miles, Automatic Upgrades, and Comfortable Seating:

One of the biggest perks of traveling frequently on business is the facility of accumulating points, which can be exchanged for vacations. Travelers, therefore, are always on the look out for hotels offering generous points facilities.

Frequent air travelers also favor automatic upgrades and comfort inside the airplane, such as generous legroom and additional storage facilities overhead. Business traveler programs like EliteAccess provided by Continental Airlines offer comforts like guarantees of no-middle-seat and upgrades to the first class if possible.

Getting Value for Money:

Companies are constantly curtailing overhead expenses by cutting down on the travel allowances they give their executives, while business travelers look for ways in which they can maximize their allowances to the fullest.

For example, several hotels offer free breakfasts, while others provide complimentary facilities such as a welcoming snack or allowing their guests to make free long distance and local calls. Many hotels also offer free newspapers, tea and coffee.

Feeling at Home Far Away from Home:

Business travelers are so frequently away from home that they look for services that replicate their home comforts.

Although hotels are selected primarily for value and location, but business travelers expect home-like comforts like high quality toiletries, comfortable bedding, choices in beverages, cable TV and films, broadband internet access, exercise and convenient check-in/out facilities, and so on.

Business Traveller Flying to London? A London City Guide for Getting to the Centre

London. The vibrant, beating heart of the United Kingdom. It’s one of the world’s most popular destinations for tourists, and for business travellers too. The amount of commerce that goes through London is staggering, with a financial centre second only to New York, and service industries that cater for both the UK, European and international markets. As the world’s most multicultural city – there are over 300 languages spoken by a population of over eight million people (twelve million if you include the metropolitan area) – the opportunities for business are clear.

With the UK strategically positioned for the business traveller on the western edge of Europe, London is a global hub for air travel, providing easy access to mainland Europe, and a stepping stone to the United States. Primarily served by five airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, City, Stansted and Luton – London is easily reached from anywhere in the world. But with the exception of London City Airport – smallest of the five and located in East London, close to the business district of Canary Wharf – the other four airports are satellites evenly dispersed around the city. The most popular, Heathrow, is located to the west of London; Gatwick is situated to the south; Stansted to the north east; and Luton to the North West. Knowing this before you make your travel plans can be useful. Since the greater metropolitan area of London covers over 1,000 square miles, your final business destination may not be right in the centre. Researching which airport is closest to your destination can save you time, effort and money.

However, whether you’re a business traveller flying from within the UK or from overseas, your starting destination may often determine the airport you arrive at. Other factors, such as your chosen time of travel, budget and availability will also make a difference. For example, if you’re travelling with a major international carrier from a major city, such as New York, the chances are you’ll arrive at Heathrow or Gatwick (Stansted also receives flights from New York but is the smallest of the three). If you’re travelling locally from within the UK with a budget carrier you’re more likely to arrive at Stansted or Luton (though not exclusively). And if you’re travelling from a major European city, particularly a financial capital, such as Frankfurt, London City Airport is a likely arrival point (the airport was created specifically to cater for short haul business travellers, particularly between financial centres).

Each airport is served by comprehensive rail and road infrastructure, providing business travellers with a variety of options to enter London. All five airports offer direct rail travel into the heart of Central London, coach travel to the main Victoria terminus, and hire car, mini-bus, licensed black cab and taxi services by road. If you’re a VIP business traveller, chauffeur services are also available, and with the exception of London City Airport, each also offer direct helicopter transfer into the heart of the city.

London Heathrow Airport

The busiest of the five airports is London Heathrow. Located less than twenty miles from central London, Heathrow is situated to the west of the city within the M25 motorway metropolitan boundary. The fastest route into London is via the Heathrow Express train service, taking just 15 minutes from terminals 1, 2 and 3 to Paddington station (located on the western side of Central London). If your flight arrives at either terminal 4 or 5 it’s a further four and six minutes travel time respectively, and you’ll need to transfer on to the main London-bound service at terminals 1, 2 and 3.

The service is excellent, offering comfort and convenience, but does not always suite everyone’s travel budget. The standard ‘Express’ single journey ticket costs £21.00 (€25.00 / $35.00), but business travellers can get better value when purchasing a return ticket, priced at £34.00 (€40.00 / $56.00). The ‘Business First’ ticket is more expensive, with singles costing £29.00 (€35.00 / $48.00) and returns £52.00 (€62.00 / $86.00), but it does afford business travellers considerably more leg room, the privacy of a ‘single seating’ layout, and a fold out table. The experience is akin to that of air travel. All passengers across both pricing structures enjoy access to electrical sockets, USB ports and free Wi-Fi. The overall quality of service and passenger experience generates a ‘wow’ factor, and if your budget can afford it, is certainly the smoothest, quickest and most convenient way to travel into London from Heathrow. Trains run regularly every fifteen minutes in both directions, particularly useful for last minute dashes to the airport.

There are two further rail options available to business travellers, both considerably less expensive, though this is reflected in the quality of service. That’s not to say either is not a good solution for business travellers, just that there is a noticeable difference in convenience and comfort.

With a service typically running every thirty minutes, and a journey duration – depending on the time of day – of between 23 and 27 minutes from terminals 1, 2 and 3, Heathrow Connect is more than adequate for business travellers who are not in a hurry. Like the rival Express service, Connect also arrives at Paddington station, but unlike its faster rival stops at up to five other stations before reaching its terminus. The ‘inconvenience’ of this less direct journey is compensated for by a considerably less expensive ticket price. Single journey’s cost £9.90 (€12.00 / $16.00) while a return is £19.80 (€24.00 / $32.00). There is no saving to be made from purchasing a return ticket. While the convenience and comfort of the traveller experience cannot match the Express, the Connect business travel solution is an acceptable compromise that suits a greater number of travel budgets.

The third – and least expensive – rail option is the London Underground ‘tube’ network. Despite the network’s name the majority of the journey from Heathrow is overground, until the business traveller nears Central London. Starting on the Piccadilly Line, the service connects all five Heathrow terminals and provides frequent trains into London, stopping at a considerable amount of outlying stations before arriving in the capital’s centre. This continually ‘interrupted’ journey – there are seventeen stops between Heathrow terminals 1, 2 and 3 and Paddington Tube station (the nearest equivalent tube terminus for a fair comparison) – and takes approximately fifty minutes journey time on average, considerably slower than its more direct rivals. This journey comparison also requires the inconvenience of a transfer between lines.

So why would the business traveller consider using the tube from Heathrow to Central London? Simple. The frequency of service, the array of destinations, and the cost. At a cash price of just £5.70 (€6.80 / $9.50) for a single journey in either direction during peak hours (06:30am to 09:30am), financially the Underground is an attractive option. At nearly half the price of the Heathrow Connect, and at just over a quarter of the price of the Heathrow Express, this service is comparably good value for money. Further value can be found if the business traveller purchases an ‘Oyster Card’, the ‘cashless’ electronic ticketing system beloved by so many Londoners. Available to purchase at Heathrow London Underground stations, this useful option allows you to get tickets cheaper than for cash – in this case a reduction to just £5.00 (€6.00 / $8.30). Off-peak travel with an Oyster Card offers even greater value, with Heathrow to Paddington in either direction costing just £3.00 (€3.60 / $5.00) per journey. The Oyster Card can also be used for unlimited travel on buses and trains throughout London, with a maximum daily spend capped at £17.00 (€20.00 / $28.00) peak time and just £8.90 (€10.60 / $15.00) off-peak for a six zone ticket (destinations across London are divided into six main zonal rings. Travelling from Heathrow to Central London crosses all six zones).

The Underground is primarily a city-wide mass transit system, rather than a ‘train’ service. As such the level of comfort and convenience is substantially less than that of both the Heathrow Express and Connect services, and at peak hours can be considerably uncomfortable. Having endured a recent flight, business travellers who choose this option run the risk of having to stand up the entire journey if travelling during peak hours. If the carriage is full to squeezing point (as is often the case at peak time) managing your luggage can be a challenge. It should also be noted that the tube network – which, as the world’s first urban mass-transit system is over 150 years old – is often prone to signal failures and delays. If the time between your arrival at Heathrow (don’t forget to factor in clearing immigration control, luggage collection and customs) and your business appointment is tight, particularly during peak hours, it is not unfair to say that you are taking a risk if you choose to use the Underground.