The start of summer sees the affluent community make their way to faraway shores in search of a little rest and relaxation. The French Riviera, Dubai and the US West Coast are all hot spots for the rich and famous, and many take their families away to enjoy a relaxed and care free break from modern day life. But care free these trips are often not, because any affluent traveler is a prime target for the twenty first century criminal. New environments, locations, staff and vehicles all present new threats that need to be understood and planned for. These threats could include stalkers, paparazzi, kidnappers and thieves – all looking to take advantage of an affluent family’s wealth, privacy and assets whilst their guard is momentarily down.
It is therefore essential for the family to take adequate security precautions prior to the trip to ensure a safe and enjoyable vacation. Like any security issue, contingency planning is essential and it’s better to be prepared then to fight the fire after it starts. As a bare minimum, the following 5 safety measures should be carried out prior to departure:
Undertake a travel intelligence analysis
It’s absolutely necessary for any affluent traveler to obtain sufficient geographic intelligence before venturing overseas. The destination should be researched thoroughly and a detailed travel intelligence analysis should be conducted by an experienced security advisor. If this is not possible, the Government’s Foreign Travel Advice website provides country-centric up to date travel advice, along with real-time information on safety and security, terrorism, local laws and customs, health and money. However relying on this solely is not recommended.
Vet all staff
Conduct a thorough background check on all staff who will be responsible for the family during the trip. This could include drivers, pilots, personal assistants and advisors. The background check should include a sampling of key information used to determine the individual’s authenticity. At bare minimum an investigation into their reputation, education, previous employment history, address, credit records and also any judgments or watch lists should be carried out. This information should be retrieved and analysed by experienced security personnel who can use superior information sources to guarantee the validity of the information, and also use behavioural intelligence techniques to identify any “red flags” that may not be spotted by other parties. Once approved, it is also recommended that all employees coming into contact with the family on the trip should sign a non-disclosure agreement to protect their privacy.
Vet all vehicles
Many affluent families rent or utilise their own vehicles in order to get to their final destination. These could be planes, yachts, cars and motorbikes. If these vehicles are hired or new to the family, it’s essential to conduct a technical surveillance counter measure project or ‘bug sweep’ to ensure that no eavesdropping or tracking devices have been planted. This surveillance sweep should be carried out by experienced personnel who are able to discreetly but effectively scour the area and remove any hidden bugs.
Establish a point of contact
The family’s travel plans should not be discussed openly and should only be shared with trusted individuals on a need to know basis. That being said, it’s important to establish a reliable point of contact who is aware of your plans, and to check in with them regularly to confirm all is well. Ideally this should be an experienced security advisor who can be on standby should any situations arise.
Personal documents are particularly at risk of being stolen or misplaced when travelling in unfamiliar locations. Prior to departure, it’s essential to make copies of all important documents to ensure a backup is available if required. Key documents to make copies of include passports, visas, debit and credit cards, driving licenses and health insurance policies.
These precautions should be viewed as standard practice for the family, and should be undertaken prior to every trip – no matter how short. Although thorough, taking these steps only provide basic protection and ideally a comprehensive travel risk assessment and travel security strategy should be carried out by an appointment security advisor to ensure complete peace of mind.