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Malaysia Air 17 Tragedy — A Reminder to Mitigate Travel Risk


Posted by Kevin Iwamoto on 07/23/2014

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I am so incredibly saddened by the shocking, tragic loss of life on Malaysia Air 17 that was mysteriously shot down over the troubled Ukraine – Russia border. There were 100 medical researchers, health workers and activists on the plane that went down, including former International AIDS Society president Joep Lange.

The passenger plane had been flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down, killing all 298 people on board. It was due to connect with another Malaysia Airlines flight scheduled to arrive in Melbourne on Friday night. Many medical researchers have expressed sympathy online upon hearing that both World Health Organization (WHO) staff and well-known HIV researchers had died in the crash.  Indeed the people behind the many advances made in the fight against AIDS are now lost forever. I wonder how many years we’re going to lose because of the impact of this tragedy and the loss of experience and research knowledge.

A couple of things immediately came to mind for me when I heard this tragic news.  The main reason why many companies prohibit employees from the same departments and senior key executives from flying together is to avoid the scenario that I just described above.  The loss of so many individuals and their collective intellectual property is devastating no matter what industry vertical your company falls under.

Secondly it’s so critically important that you mitigate as much as possible, especially when it comes to policy and processes, your number of employees traveling to conventions and meetings.  You should put processes in place with your meeting management companies, TMCs, OBTs, etc., that identify and alert you whenever you get clusters of bookings for employees traveling together.  Your master meeting calendars should also alert you when you have a big meeting or conference registered — so that you can work with your intermediary partners to proactively check reservations and bookings in order to avoid what just happened with Malaysia flight 17.

You’ve heard me speak and blog about risk mitigation many times; I’m going to keep doing that until all of you have a risk mitigation process and policy in place to enforce your limitation of company employees traveling together.

I care that much and so should you!

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