Crafting Effective Destination Guides

How to develop useful destination guides that empower your travellers to manage risk.

First published by Grant Rayner on 01 May 2023

3 min read

Travel Security

This essay was originally published in Dangerous Travels on 01 May 2023

In a recent article, I explored end-to-end journey management. This week, let’s delve into a crucial aspect of journey management integration: destination guides.

Destination guides equip travellers with essential information for safe travel to and from a specific location. Sounds simple, right? Sadly, destination guides often fall short, lacking helpful detail and actionable information. Consequently, travellers disregard them as dull and unhelpful.

But when done right, destination guides can be one of the most powerful tools organisations have to minimise risks for travellers. In this article, I’ll discuss the benefits of destination guides and provide an overview of their vital components.

Benefits of destination guides

Well-crafted destination guides offer a range of advantages for both your organisation and your travellers.

Integrating journey management

Destination guides serve as a product of the journey management process. All the effort you’ve put into selecting safe airlines, evaluating hotel security, and determining suitable transportation options will culminate in concise recommendations within these guides.

While eliminating all risks is impossible, mitigating known and understood risks is achievable. Destination guides help travellers prepare for potential issues, such as food and water safety, air pollution, and extreme temperatures.

Operationalising risk mitigation

The main advantage of destination guides is their ability to operationalise risk mitigation. For example, if an area has high crime rates, the guide can advise travellers to avoid it. If tap water is unsafe, the guide can suggest drinking only bottled water. Accessible, practical recommendations significantly reduce risk.

However, the traveller’s compliance with these guidelines remains a variable. Ultimately, the traveller must take responsibility for following the advice provided to minimise risk.

Empowering the traveller

Destination guides empower travellers with the information they need to manage their own risk exposure. Feeling more in control of risk variables boosts confidence and reduces anxiety, especially when travelling to higher-risk locations. This is crucial, as organisations have limited control over risk once the traveler is on the ground.

The traveller is made a partner in the process, rather than transferring all responsibility to them (or leaving them to muddle through on their own). Organisations should encourage travellers to follow protocols outlined in the destination guides, ensuring they have done all they can to warn of risks and provide safer alternatives.

Allocating Resources Effectively

Many organisations subscribe to vendor services, mistakenly believing they have covered the cost of traveller incident response. However, responding to traveler emergencies remains expensive and disruptive.

A significant advantage of well-designed destination guides is their focus on prevention over response. Risk avoidance is a far better strategy than incident response. In addition, detailed guides will help alleviate traveler anxiety when venturing to higher-risk locations.

For destination guides to be truly beneficial, they must be created thoughtfully and thoroughly. Simply copying and pasting material from a security vendor or a travel website won’t suffice. Craft a guide that genuinely empowers and prepares travellers for a safe and stress-free journey.

Let’s take a look at what information should be included in these destination guides.

Contents of the Destination Guides

Destination guides should be structured logically, guiding travellers through the process of learning about risks, arranging travel, and managing their safety and security on location.

Consider the following outline:

  • Risks
    • Security
    • Medical
    • Environmental
  • Preparation and planning
    • Risk-based approval process
    • Visa application process and links
    • Restrictions
  • Getting there
    • Approved airlines
    • Recommended transit airports
    • Airport arrival protocols
    • Meet and greet arrangements
  • Accommodation
    • Approved hotels
    • Getting from the hotel to the office
  • Local transportation
  • Specific protocols
    • Check-in procedures
    • Loss of contact plans
  • Office information
    • Address
    • Access instructions
  • Emergency response - procedures for vehicle accidents, illness, emergency contacts, company insurance information

Each section in your destination guide should contain essential information, presented in an informative and useful manner. Here are a few examples:

  • Hotels: Include the name, address, and contact number for each approved hotel. Make sure to provide the address in the local language as well, so travellers can easily communicate it to taxi drivers. Mention the distance and estimated travel time between the hotel and your office, and consider embedding a Google Maps link with driving or walking directions. If public transportation is available, offer additional details. For hotels in higher-risk locations, include information about any vulnerable areas that should be avoided.
  • Meet and greet services: Specify a meeting point and add a photo of the location. Explain the verification process, including how travellers can confirm they are meeting the right person. Be sure to include the service provider’s name and a 24-hour contact number, in case the designated person doesn’t show up at the meeting point.
  • Local transport: If certain taxi companies should be avoided, list them by name and provide a description or photo of their vehicles. Be as specific as possible—don’t simply advise against using unlicensed taxis. Explain the risks associated with unlicensed taxis and offer descriptions and photos to help travellers identify them.

By providing clear and actionable advice, you will not only help travellers navigate potential risks but also show that your company is serious about ensuring their safety.

Maintaining destination guides

Regularly update your destination guides by seeking input from travellers. Encourage them to propose updates or changes, decentralising maintenance and ensuring the guides remain relevant.

Destination guides should cater to the majority of travellers. For unique situations, tailor a guide for a specific trip and create a new destination guide if the trip is likely to be repeated. Encourage travellers to use these guides for personal travel as well.

Wrap up

By following the approaches outlined above, you’ll empower your travellers to mitigate a significant amount of avoidable travel risk. You’ll also instil confidence in your travellers, enabling them to better manage risk while on location.

Developing effective destination guides takes time, but it’s a worthwhile investment. Continually build on these guides as you learn of new travel profiles and as travellers provide feedback on their experiences.

Thanks for reading.

Next week, I’m going to start focusing on communications and securing information while travelling.

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