Outdated Safety Systems Drive Higher Costs
Students Are Inherently Risky
My Best Travel Experience:
Slid down waterfalls with Fijian convicts from the local correctional facility (they were nice).
Falling off a motorbike in Thailand and having the nurse write the instructions for my meds from Google Translate.
Tried to study abroad in Paris but 3 weeks in someone tried to kidnap me on the metro.
It has become fashionable for institutions and organizations to throw around the term “duty of care” without a proper understanding of what it actually entails. Collins English Dictionary describes duty of care as “the legal obligation to safeguard others from harm while they are in your care, using your services, or exposed to your activities.” 2020 and the COVID-19 Pandemic have spotlighted failures in systems and underscored the urgent need for institutions and organizations to better understand how to provide duty of care to protect their travelers from harm. As the world begins to emerge from COVID-19 lockdowns—and travel starts to pick up—it is all the more imperative to address this challenge.
Today, there is a near-constant state of anxiety that revolves around travel, especially overseas—permanxiety. Travelers experience a stream of worries about terrorism, security, geopolitics, technology and its adverse role, and so in. The reality of all of these worries? The anxieties students care about misalign with their above stakeholders. Safety is not in the top two anxieties polled students had about travel—it was a distant third after affordability and making friends.
Humans make mitakes, and many organizations still lack the technology to effectively manage student travel health and safety.
Current travel-tracking solutions are antiquated and ineffective in youth travel. To the extent an institution or organization has the foresight and maturity to offer products and services like emergency contact cards or check-in apps, students are overwhelmingly unaware or disengaged. The schools own the risk but are flying blind. In fact, according to one poll of over 2,000 students, nearly 70% of students did not report their side-trips and/or their independent off-campus travel while on school-sponsored programs. The information gap is bad for everyone. Students need safety and security services, but don’t voluntarily adopt them, even when available or made mandatory. Social connections, adventure, and budget drive student travel behaviors. Safety and security are after-thoughts or “no-thoughts”—third on their totem pole of travel anxieties. When something goes wrong, the school is exposed not only to incident-related loss and expense, but disproportionate harm to reputation, and to strategic objectives to promote wide use of study abroad options.
Specifically, in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic, students have been often stuck abroad, finding it difficult to navigate the challenges and logistics of immediate repatriation. In fact, in a few circumstances, students remained abroad against the will of their institutions and parents. Students have voiced their top frustrations with their international education offices as communication. Our goal at OffWeGo is to help mitigate these circumstances, and provide more insight into the student experience so that their above stakeholders can better manage their travels.