Last fall, more than 500 of some of the world’s leading authorities in the oil and gas industry traveled to London for an industry conference that, among other pieces of business, examined the biggest challenges facing the energy industry.
The risks posed by environmental regulations, specifically rules that would classify huge chunks of coal, oil and gas reserves as unburnable, was one of the challenges raised. So was the major investment required to develop large deep-sea oil and gas projects. Price volatility also came up.
As insurance people, we can’t do much to help on those fronts. But what caught our eye was a perennial issue for the industry: uncertainty in the geopolitical landscape, especially considering growing economic nationalism.
Uncertainty, of course, means traveling to less-than-stable and perhaps even hostile parts of the world.
With that unnerving thought in mind, here are nine tips to help make your trip abroad (and perhaps even domestically) a bit less risky:
Because the less known about your travel plans and just who you represent the better, consider making reservations using your employer’s street address, without identifying the company, and using your personal credit card.
The most vulnerable part of your journey is traveling between the point of debarkation/embarkation and the hotel. Do not linger or wander unnecessarily in the parking lot, indoor garage or public space around the hotel. Be alert for suspicious persons and behavior. Watch for distractions that are intentionally staged to setup a pickpocket, luggage theft or purse snatch.
Consider using the bellman. Luggage in the “care, custody and control” of the hotel causes the hotel to be liable for your property. Don’t lose your claim checks; they are your evidence.
Allow the bellman to open the room, turn lights on, check the room to ensure that it is vacant and ready for your stay. Before dismissing the bellman, always inspect the door lock, locks on sliding glass doors, privacy latch or chain, guest room safes, deadbolt lock on interconnecting suite door, and telephone. Bring along a door-stopper for extra peace of mind, because locks can be faulty. If need be, request a room change.
Ground-floor rooms which open to a pool area or beach with sliding glass doors and window access can be vulnerable. Depending upon the situation, area, and security coverage, exercise a higher level of security if assigned a first-floor room.
Speak with the concierge and front desk regarding safe areas around the city in which to jog, dine or sightsee. Ask about local customs and which taxi companies to use or avoid. Invest in a good map of the city. Mark significant points on a map such as your hotel, embassies and police stations. Study the map and make a mental note of alternative routes to your hotel or local office should your map become lost or stolen.
When you’re assessing the security of a hotel, it’s also a good idea to determine whether the property is located near any government buildings that might be considered a target. Selecting a hotel because high-ranking U.S. government officials prefer to stay there is not a good idea. In fact, the known presence of government officials is precisely why you should stay away from any given hotel.
Make sure you check fire exits. Hotels have been known to chain and padlock these, especially at night.
Finally, keep in mind that hotel rooms overseas are sometimes under surveillance. In countries where the intelligence services are very active, everything that you do in that hotel room may be recorded and analyzed for possible vulnerabilities or for any useful information that can be derived from your conversation.
CCIG is a Denver-area insurance brokerage with the full-service capabilities of a national brokerage. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We help you manage your long-term cost of risk with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.