At GSA Global, we have had much to say about the benefits which ISO 31030 has brought to travel risk management for business travellers, so what is different about the forthcoming ISO 310301?

The answer is quite a lot because young travellers on organised visits or trips involving national or international travel are usually a more vulnerable group than adults in the same circumstances.

The main differences reflect the additional complexities and challenges of managing young people, and start with the roles and responsibilities of those involved in planning and delivering the trip. These personnel include the ‘top management’ of the organisation arranging the travel, and the ‘trip organizer’ who has a particular responsibility for risk identification and management as well as considering safeguarding issues for the young travellers within the overall duty of care to them.

Other key roles include the ‘trip leader’ (and a designated substitute, should the trip leader become available), a ‘leadership team’ providing supervision of the group, and a ‘support team’, if necessary. This combined group and their plan are essential to the journey being safe, secure and well-managed. An appropriate ratio of male and female members should reflect the make-up of the travellers. Daytime and nighttime supervision ratios also need to be considered as well as having enough resilience to provide reasonable rests and breaks for the leadership team potentially over a protracted period.

It goes without saying that this group and the key members of it should be appropriately trained and experienced in order to be effective in discharging their significant responsibilities to their travellers. As ever, the approach should be proportionate to the foreseeable risks taking account of the travellers and the location(s) to be visited; and this applies whether it is a day trip to visit a museum in the UK, or more complex international travel to multiple countries.

If these arrangements don’t sound that proportionate, recent tragic incidents in the UK highlight the need for improved risk management in academic and youth settings. In 2018, a member of a scout group fell to his death whilst on an expedition in Wales, and in 2019 a child on school trip also to Wales was found drowned. Investigations into both events revealed lapses in risk assessment and inadequate safety measures. Sadly, at the time of writing, other tragedies are also under investigation. So, for academic institutions, ISO 31031 presents an opportunity to enhance their risk management practices systematically, meaning young travellers can safely enjoy new life-experiences and by following a well thought-through plan underpinned by good practice advice, uphold stakeholders’ confidence, enhance the institution’s reputation, and attract more students. The same benefits arise for youth organisations, including clubs, camps, and extracurricular groups.

ISO 31031 is now in the advanced stages of development, undergoing final reviews and consultations with industry experts and stakeholders to ensure that it is both comprehensive and practical. The projected date for the final publication of ISO 31031 is expected to be late 2024 or early 2025.

In conclusion, the implications of ISO 31031 for many academic institutions and youth organisations could be significant. While the implementation of the Guidance may present challenges, the benefits of enhanced safety, compliance, resilience and confidence amongst stakeholders far outweigh the difficulties. By adopting ISO 31031, these organisations can create safer, more secure environments that foster learning, growth, and development opportunities for students and other young travellers, everywhere.