What is
Travel Tracking?

icon for travel tracking featuring map points

Travel Tracking, in the broadest sense, encompasses all the tools we offer. As it refers to the tools below, Travel Tracking is an important component of Travel Security, and is part of an employer’s overall duty of care for employees’ health and wellbeing.

For individuals, Travel Tracking helps you manage your itinerary and gives your family and friends peace of mind.

A complete travel tracking system will include

  • Itinerary management.
  • Tracking the location of a traveller using their itinerary (passive tracking).
  • Active tracking, which can include
    • Automated queries (e.g. “Have you arrived?”) and traveller confirmations, by text or email.
    • Real-time tracking of commercial flight status and location.
    • The geolocation of a traveller’s phone or tracking device, as an opt-in function.
    • The location of expenses the traveller enters into their expense management software or app.
  • Integration with a traveller’s travel management company, so booking data can automatically create a trip in the traveller’s itinerary.
  • "Email parsing", which gives the traveller the ability to forward booking-confirmation emails to their travel tracking system, and the system will create a trip in the traveller’s itinerary.
  • Integration with the traveller’s tax and visa compliance tools.
  • The ability for a traveller to change their itinerary on the fly.
  • The ability for a travel administrator – or for individuals, a designated trusted person – to view the locations of all members of their company or group.
  • Automated confirmations of arrival, for travel administrators and designated people.
  • Automated notifications to travel administrators or designated people that the traveller has failed to confirm arrival.
  • A travel tracking smartphone app.

Itinerary management

Yup, that’s a lot of tracking, so let’s break it down.

In the simplest form of itinerary management, you enter your own trips, or trip segments, into the travel tracking system.

In a more advanced form, the travel tracking system is integrated with your booking service, which automatically creates a trip in your itinerary.

An alternative is “email parsing”, which lets you forward booking-confirmation emails to your travel tracking system, which automatically creates a trip in your itinerary.

In all cases, a travel tracking system should let your travel administrator (or if you’re an individual traveller, a designated member of your family/group), view the itineraries of all their people. It should update in real time.

We call this passive tracking. It tells your administrator or designated person where you should be. It doesn’t, however, tell them where you actually are.

Active tracking

For this reason, we recommend active tracking. As you read above, active tracking can have a lot of integrated moving parts.

The most basic is trip confirmation. A certain amount of time before a trip segment (which your administrator can set), you should receive a text and/or email asking you if you are still planning to take that segment (e.g., “Are you travelling from London to Oslo at 17:00?”).

At that point, you can confirm that you are or are not travelling. This will update your itinerary and notify your administrator of your confirmation or any deviation.

When you complete a trip segment, according to your itinerary, the travel tracking system should send an automated query by text or email (e.g. “Have you arrived at Leonardo Da Vinci airport?”). You either respond “yes” or fail to respond.

If you respond “yes”, the system should send a confirmation to your travel administrator or designated person. If you don’t respond within a specified time period, the system should send a “failure to respond” notification.

Next, active tracking incorporates real-time tracking of commercial flight status and location. So, for example, even though your itinerary says you should be landing at JFK at 15:22, the system knows if you’re likely to arrive early or late, and updates your itinerary accordingly.

A complete active tracking service can also pinpoint the location of your phone or tracking device. Before you start having images of Big Brother, we believe phone tracking should always be opt in, and you should be able to turn it on and off.

Your employer could conceivably make phone or device tracking mandatory for when you travel. We don’t recommend this approach. We feel strongly that employers and employees should collaborate on the best measures for keeping travellers safe. You can read more about our recommendations in the Travel Security article.

Finally, if your travel tracking system includes an expense management service, active tracking should be able to incorporate the locations of the expenses you enter.

Integrated tax and visa tracking

If your travel tracking system includes automated tax and visa compliance tools, the system should be able to automatically populate those tools with your days in country or other tax jurisdiction (for tax compliance) and your days permitted in a visa area.

For example, if you have to work in Belgium for two months, the system will use your travel tracking data to enter both the days you spend in Belgium for tax purposes, as well as your days in the Schengen area, for visa compliance.

You can find more information about this in the Tax Compliance and Visa and Immigration Compliance articles.

The administrator’s overview

Your travel administrator – or your designated person, if you’re part of a family/group – should be able to view the locations of all their people collectively. They should then be able to drill down into the specifics of an individual traveller’s journey.

Smartphone app

Finally, a complete travel tracking system should have an app that lets you view, manage and update your itinerary, respond to queries and access Travel Security features.

Not surprisingly, Mia Bazo offers the tools discussed in this article.

The latest blogs for travel tracking: