Risk Management for Risk Managers
Sanderson Phillips provides risk management services to a wide variety of travel and leisure industry clients. We are continually assessing their supply chains, creating an audit trail to satisfy their legal and moral obligations. Our business plan, objectives and risk management plan all point to the need for a constant evaluation of whether our own processes are fit for purpose – we monitor changes in laws and regulations, scan the media for accidents, incidents and near-misses and use feedback we gain from our clients to help us shape our assessment criteria and minimum standards. Having personally worked in the travel industry for over 22 years, I have seen my fair share of crises and incidents, all of which derailed our clients’ plans in some way (from minimal to severe) and most of them unexpected. As a result, one eye is always on the next unknown challenge, but 2020 was different.
Often a situation or incident can affect a city, region, country, countries or even a continent, but very rarely does it cause disruption on a global scale. So when a global issue arises, albeit it slowly as COVID-19 did, the role of risk management is brought into focus for a prolonged period and provides an opportunity for risk managers to demonstrate why it should be adopted as a routine discipline. Even though we are dealing with risk on a daily basis for our clients, we have re-evaluated how we can be better prepared to react to unforeseen risks.
COVID presented a complex situation for our clients, and continues to do so. It was apparent from the early stages of the pandemic that tour operators and travel organisations would need to assess what specific provisions hotels and accommodation providers had in place to effectively deal with the threats posed by the virus. We adapted by introducing specific questioning in our audits for COVID Compliance, as well as creating an Extended audit and partnering with Global Secure Accreditation to create a Certificate of International Good Practice. To date, we have audited over 2,000 properties on our clients’ behalf for COVID Compliance and expect to be asking specific COVID-related questions for some time to come.
At the same time, we took the opportunity to expand our services through Atkin Jones, undertaking a re-brand at the same time. The result is an exciting opportunity for us and a validation that embedded risk management objectives are beneficial. The Risk Management Plan will not give you all the answers when an incident evolves that affects your strategy and/or prevents you from achieving your objectives, but it will be crucial to shape the future once the initial crisis period has calmed. Especially during a slowly-evolving situation, having confidence that operations can continue, financial stability can be ensured and that staff know their roles during and after the incident management phase are hugely important.
We cannot recommend having a Risk Management Plan (or reviewing your current one) highly enough. Ours wasn’t perfect, but it was instrumental in achieving our 2020 objectives and is once again a central element of our strategy in 2021. If you’d like to know more about our experience over the last 12 months, or discuss your own organisation, please get in touch.