The best business partnerships are those that have a shared mission and vision at the heart of it all. GeoSure’s partnership with the travel community is connected to the soul of what motivates online travel agencies (OTAs), travel management companies (TMCs), travel managers, industry platforms, destination marketers and others in our ecosystem—which is a calling to help people find and afford opportunities to expand their personal horizons.
We are all driven by a fundamental urge to experience diverse places and cultures and make more of the world our own. GeoSure shares that goal, and our role in this mission is one we take seriously.
This goal of widened experiences extends broadly and powerfully, which is why a statement by Kim Albrecht earlier this year was so meaningful. As the visionary CMO of SAP Concur, Albrecht recognizes that the power of new technologies designed for women and LGBTQ+ travel safety is necessary and long overdue. She wrote: “In 2020, these kinds of features won’t be considered ‘added’; they will become an expected and common part of the traveler experience.”
Just a year before that statement, Albrecht articulated an enlightened vision for the role of safety in the wider realm of corporate responsibility, predicting: “safety will go hand-in-hand with employee satisfaction”—and female traveler safety, in particular, will rise to the top of corporate agendas.
The prescience of leaders like Albrecht, as well as trendsetting organizations, is even more consequential in today’s world. The pandemic, and the consequent economic shockwaves it created, has inspired a search—at the highest levels of global corporate leadership—to identify new ways to engender trust and reassurance, improving both the leisure and business travel experience.
I have continually been impressed by the way that leaders have embraced new and more expansive obligations to their stakeholders in the wake of COVID-19. They have recognized that there is an unprecedented need for investment in the science and technology that can lead to a new “culture of safety.” The travel ecosystem has conceptualized and launched new ways to tackle the current insatiable demands for timely information as the world has become increasingly unpredictable. This data appetite is for usable and actionable statistics relating to the current spread, pervasiveness and manifestations of the coronavirus on the most localized levels possible.
These investments in travel safety correspond with what we have seen in the health care industry, including pharma, as unprecedented resources and efforts have been unleashed to treat COVID-19 and develop vaccines.
In short, there are many ways to address the existential challenges of this virus.
As noted above, the healthiest business partnerships emerge from common brand roots and shared values. We launched GeoSure into the world seven years ago, with a mission to open global horizons in parallel with what travel actors and others were focused on.
Long before COVID, we built a platform designed to use artificial intelligence, machine learning and the latest in information technology to capture and distribute travel safety insights in the form of proprietary GeoSafeScores™. These scores are a confidence-driving set of metrics that benefit everyone in our industry.
The nature of society and our world has changed, and as a result, companies of all sizes are rethinking their obligations through a new lens. This widening of responsibility does not have a single source. It’s predicated on a confluence of circumstances that call for new safety transparency and standards: the extraordinary data demands of COVID-19 transmission; societal demands for greater diversity, equality and inclusion; and awakening of the need to give the LGBTQ+ community and other at-risk groups tools to help them stay safe.
We call that a #newdutyofcare.
Conventional duty of care was previously limited to a narrow scope of the risks of physical harm pertaining to business travelers on the road, those whom had access to precautions and risk mitigation measures provided through their employers.
The #newdutyofcare goes far beyond those responsibilities. It now includes the use of innovative technology to assure employee and associate well-being, confidence and empowerment across multiple dimensions of travel, including the safety and security of women and members of at-risk groups.
GeoSure’s vision of the #newdutyofcare for business travel has further widened the aperture to include leisure travelers.
As many of us now work from home, the lines between our business and personal lives have forever blurred. Corporations are recognizing they need be attentive to, and supportive of, the entirety of their employees’ lives, including areas that were outside the roles that employers traditionally played.
Self-care and respect for individual and family wellness are essential parts of a full and healthy life. Companies are starting to pay for stress-reduction and mindfulness programs, expanded child care and other enlightened programs that were unheard of just a few years ago.
We see the implications of those changes in the world of travel as an expansion of the traditional corporate duty of care to a new duty of self-care—making safety a part of not just business and leisure travel, but indeed everyday life in one’s own community.
Imagine searching for a hotel or destination, filtered by characteristics such as whether you are a solo female traveler, whether you are Black, white, Latinx, Caucasian or of Asian descent, straight, gay, transgender or otherwise. Imagine specific searches for your journey, and relevant safety results, as a function of your preferences and personal experience, returned by location. You select accordant safety—you now have agency, you’re in control. Not the other way around.
There is no doubt how empowering that experience would be. Contemplate how much travel will be boosted based on the self-confidence and trust that can be surfaced and made easily accessible. For everyone, anywhere. And that’s only one element of GeoSure’s vision of the future of travel. And as Albrecht added, “there is more to come.” Much more, especially looking at enhanced individualization.
When confidence reemerges, and travel comes back to a life we recognize, and incontrovertibly it shall, the full experience—including travel safety—will be viewed through a different prism. Risk management and active travel safety will become embedded across the entire planning and booking process, along with the user’s itinerary, and perhaps even after we return home. Rich capabilities will be developed, costs will decline dramatically, usage will spike and organizations will deliver the most expansive definition of travel safety possible.
Fueled by this new dimension of expanded safety, paired with intelligent technologies, travel will arise stronger and smarter than ever before. The heretofore $8+ trillion global industry juggernaut will reach new economic heights and traveler fulfillment.
Our partners across the travel ecosystem will join us in reopening the world to joyful and unencumbered participation.
Together with destinations, organizations, travel platforms and communities, the shared missions of GeoSure and our partners will forever change the travel experience and well-being of the world, for the better—a safer, more predictable world indeed.
Michael Becker is the cofounder of GeoSure, a data science startup which aggregates thousands of data sources and signals through its proprietary predictive analytics and risk modeling platform.