Who’s responsible?


A couple items came across my desk this past month.

Business Travel News reported that fewer than 40 percent of corporate travel departments track their employees while they are on the road and only about half of corporate travel managers oversee travel security at all. (It may be that this responsibility is taken up by some other corporate function such as corporate security, but one wonders.)

The other bit of news comes from Australia where, in the wake of the Bali terrorist attacks, the government may act to require travel agents to give their clients copies of the Department of Foreign Affairs travel warnings about the countries those travelers will be visiting.

Putting these two news items side-by-side raises the question, “Whose responsibility is it anyway to look after you when you’re away from home.” Is it your corporate travel manager? Your security department? Your travel agency? Your mom?

One morning I posed this question to a room full of attorneys. I outlined a hypothetical case of a mugging in a hotel room and asked, “Who’s responsible.”

After an intellectual discussion of contract law (remember the audience), what I got was that everyone–from the travel agent who booked the room to the cab driver who delivered the soon-to-be-victim to the hotel–could face a liability suit.

These lawyers were “piling on” when, to her credit (and to my relief), a young woman said, “I don’t think Terry is asking who is legally responsible. I think he is asking who is ultimately responsible. ‘Ultimately,’ like, ‘Don’t get yourself killed, ultimately.'”

Which brings me back to the news items I referenced at the top of this column. Organizations, from private companies to national governments, can dictate all they want about who will look after you while you are traveling. It makes little difference.

The one person most responsible for your safety and security when planning for and taking your trip is you.