April 24, 2023

Beyond GPS: Why Comprehensive Travel Tracking is Essential for Risk Management

Beyond GPS: Why Comprehensive Travel Tracking is Essential for Risk Management

Travel tracking is vital to managing travel risks and keeping employees safe during business trips. Unfortunately, while GPS tracking is often the first option that comes to mind, it’s not good enough, and more is needed.

In this article, we'll discuss the limitations of GPS tracking and why tracking travel itineraries is crucial. By the end of this article, you'll appreciate the importance of a comprehensive travel tracking system for successful travel risk management. So, let's dive in and learn more!

GPS Tracking doesn't work in many cases

GPS tracking has its limitations, and one of the main ones is that it doesn't work if a phone is left, lost, stolen, broken, or doesn't have the right app installed.

GPS tracking relies on a mobile device to provide location data. Therefore, GPS tracking cannot provide information if the device fails or is missing. Similarly, if the monitoring is done by mobile app, and the user doesn’t have the app installed or is not given the app permission, GPS tracking won't work. This can significantly limit companies that rely solely on GPS tracking to monitor their employees' safety during business travel.

To address this limitation, it's essential to consider additional tracking methods for backup and redundancy in case of device failure or inaccessibility. One way to do this is by adding itinerary tracking alongside GPS tracking. Itinerary tracking involves collecting information on travellers' travel plans, such as their flight and hotel details. This information can be used to confirm that the traveller has arrived at their destination safely and can provide additional context if GPS tracking is unavailable.

GPS Tracking doesn’t help with planning

Another limitation of relying solely on GPS tracking for travel risk management is that it doesn't provide the opportunity to brief travellers in advance about specific risks in the areas they are travelling to. GPS tracking can only provide current location data and not inform anyone about where the traveller plans to go.

For instance, if a traveller plans to travel to a country with a high risk of political unrest or a disease outbreak, then by using itinerary tracking, travel managers can provide travellers with pre-travel briefings that include information on potential hazards, such as political instability, crime, or health risks.

Pre-travel briefings can help travellers prepare adequately for their trip, minimise risks, and respond appropriately if they encounter any issues. Moreover, pre-travel briefings can reduce the likelihood of travel-related incidents, ultimately saving the company time and money.

GPS Tracking can give generate incorrect data

Another issue with GPS data is that it can give misleading data traces when disabled. There are several reasons why a traveller might disable GPS. They might lose the device as discussed above, be concerned about privacy, which we discuss below, or disable data roaming on their mobile phone because of cost concerns.

Whatever the reason, if the user is being tracked using GPS and the data feed is turned off, whichever system is being used to track the user will show that the user is still in the last known location, which causes many issues.

It could, for example, show that a traveller is in a safe location when in fact, they have been caught up in an incident, or it may fail to show that they travelled through a location with a high risk of infectious diseases, meaning that protocols for monitoring possible symptoms are skipped. It could also fail to record that a traveller has crossed an international boundary which can cause security, tax and immigration issues.

Pro-active itinerary tracking can limit the risk of this happening by generating an alert when their GPS data varies from their planned itinerary, allowing someone at the home office to investigate further and confirm everything is OK.

GPS Tracking Often Triggers Privacy Concerns

While GPS tracking can provide valuable data for travel risk management, it can also trigger employee privacy concerns. Employees may feel that GPS tracking is invasive and infringes on their privacy, which can lead them to turn off it altogether.

To address these concerns, companies must balance tracking and privacy. This can be achieved by implementing a comprehensive privacy policy outlining the tracking purpose and how data is used. Companies can also consider involving employees in developing the procedure and providing them with options for opting out of tracking if they have concerns. Effective communication is also essential. Companies should communicate the benefits of travel tracking to employees and provide a clear understanding of how it works. This can help build trust between employers and employees and alleviate privacy concerns.

We’ve found that employees are less concerned about their employer monitoring their travel with itinerary-based tracking. This type of tracking relies on information about employees' travel plans to determine their location and track their movements. As such, employees can still be monitored for safety purposes without GPS.


GPS tracking is a valuable tool for travel risk management but has limitations. Relying solely on GPS tracking can lead to incomplete or inaccurate data, especially when employees' phones are left, lost, stolen, or broken. Additionally, GPS tracking may not provide the opportunity to brief travellers in advance of specific risks in the areas they are travelling to, as the company won’t know they are travelling there.

To mitigate these limitations, companies should consider using itinerary-based tracking in addition to GPS tracking. By knowing employees' travel plans, itinerary-based tracking can provide valuable information for travel risk management, even if GPS tracking is disabled.

Moreover, companies must address privacy concerns that GPS tracking may trigger among employees. They can balance tracking and privacy by implementing clear privacy policies, involving employees in policy development, and communicating the benefits of travel tracking.

It’s worth noting that while there are limitations to GPS tracking, it has its strengths too. We don’t recommend not using GPS tracking; rather, we recommend avoiding only using GPS tracking. A combination of data sources, from GPS, itinerary data and anything else that can identify a traveller's location (such as the location of credit card usage) is the gold standard.

Travel risk management is essential for businesses with short-term business travel or a mobile workforce. By understanding the limitations of GPS tracking and implementing effective tracking solutions that prioritise both safety and privacy, companies can ensure the well-being of their employees and their business operations.

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