When orchestrating an incentive program or corporate meeting abroad, developing a crisis plan should be at the top of your list. Put your travelers’ fears to rest by showing them you have all the details worked out. A carefully formulated plan will help avoid preventable crisis and provide structure in the face of unavoidable tragedy. Here’s a useful reference to aid in creating your crisis plan.


Many serious tragedies can be avoided. Consider these precautionary measures as you plan.


Travelers may assume that their health insurance will take care of anything that would normally be covered at home. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

For travelers that are under the company’s insurance, check the travel coverage and relay this information to your participants. If attendees are external to your company, urge them to contact their insurance and learn the travel policies. Provide them with a simple list of questions to ask their insurance company, such as:

  • Will my insurance cover a medical evacuation?
  • Will I be able to immediately receive emergency treatment or are pre-authorizations required?
  • Will pre-existing conditions be covered?

If insurance does not cover the above, participants should consider purchasing travel insurance. While there will likely be an extra fee for this extra coverage, it will likely be worth it in the event that a crisis occurs.

Cell Phone

As tempting as it might be to go completely of the grid, someone in your group should always be carrying a phone. Urge members of your group to contact their cell phone providers and add on a global plan. However, if embarking on a more remote excursion there may be some places where cell phones will be of little use. Contact vendor-partners to ensure they have a satellite phone should an emergency come up.  For example, if taking an African safari to a remote location, or taking a boat tour to a secluded location, ordinary cell phone service may not work but satellite phones, or other devices may be options that your vendor-partners should be prepared to provide and make available.

Alternate Methods to Contact Loved Ones
While making a phone call via mobile phone may seem the easiest option, attendees should also be prepared to have alternate methods to contact loved ones.  Prepaid calling cards for international calls, fax, email that is internationally accessible, etc.


If higher risk expeditions are on the itinerary, inform attendees of the possible dangers. Make sure all needed paperwork, such as a release of liability, has been signed prior to the trip.

Register Travel with a US Embassy
Planners should consider registering their trip with US Embassies at each destination country.  This can be helpful in the event of an emergency as well as providing alerts about the safety, travel, etc. related to the destination.  https://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/united-states

Emergency Action Plan
When a plane takes off, what’s the first thing airlines do?  They remind passengers of the emergency action plan.  In the same respect, your group should have a basic emergency action plan discussed prior to travel.  This should identify who the points of contact are as well as any additional information that may be specific to the destination such as using 112 instead of 911 in many European countries.  Additionally, this plan should cover the basics such as remaining calm, evaluating the situation, securing the group, getting help for the injured, etc.


Should a medical emergency arise, you will want to make sure everyone in your group is briefed on the procedure. Communicate with your group who will do what in the midst of a crisis.

Local Points of Contact
It is important that during a time of crisis, especially when someone’s wellness, safety and life is at risk, that there are local contacts readily available.  This should include fire, police, ambulance, hospital and so forth.  Your group should know who has this information as well as where it can be located should it be necessary.

Medical Training

Make sure you have someone in your group who has received CRP, AED, and First Aid Training. You can also contact your vendor-partner and inquire whether they have a medically trained staff member who would be able to provide immediate care.

Hospital Escort

Hospital trips will run much smoother if you plan ahead who would accompany an injured member of your group. If you are in an area where interpretation services may be required, make sure this person can speak the language or that your plans include an interpreter.


It is very important that you designate at least one person to be in charge of communication. They will be the one to set up the ride to the hospital by calling a taxi, ambulance, or in extreme cases air lift. They will also be the one to call the necessary parties, such as family or the PR department. Be sure to compile a list of everyone’s emergency contacts and a detailed plan of when they should be called.


It is also important for the meeting planner to have a plan for how to cope in the aftermath of a tragedy. Working in conjunction with both the public relations, marketing and human resources department to prepare a crisis plan can be extremely helpful.  Items that should be high on the meeting planner’s crisis plan:

Individual Counseling

Check with the HR and see if the company’s insurance policy covers grief counseling. Look up counselors that are covered under the insurance and make this information known to those who were on the trip.

Group Therapy

Another option would be to offer group therapy for those on the trip as well as those left behind at home. These sessions should be led by a trained therapist who can come alongside and help them grieve and process their emotions.


No one wants to think about all the things that might go wrong. This is why it is your job as a meeting planner to make these considerations, taking into account all phases of any given tragedy. Doing this will not only free up your travelers to enjoy themselves, but it could also prove invaluable in a life or death situation.

Is a corporate meeting or travel incentive program in your company’s future? Contact Gavel International to discover more about mitigating the risks associated with planning these events

Eloisa Mendez