How to Protect the Traveling Exec

In the world of private security, many have misconceived notions when it comes to traveling with an executive. As long as the travel is within the area you are licensed, you may be able to follow the same guidelines for day-to-day operations; however, traveling across state lines or overseas presents its own level of planning and coordination. 

When an executive informs a protection specialist that they need to travel with them, some get lost in the glamour of the lifestyle. A common misconception is that when the client travels — especially for leisure — that the protector is traveling at their leisure as well. This is never the case. For every hour spent at your client’s destination, the protector has usually spent six hours planning.

The following guidelines are a great starting point to planning security for executive travel:

1. Security Needs Assessment – A proper assessment of the executive’s needs and possible risks should be conducted any time there are notable changes in that executive’s lifestyle. Pay special attention to the proposed travel plans and look for any weaknesses in the itinerary.

2. Advance – It is often overlooked by executives and seen as an unnecessary step in the overall security plan; however, a proper advance highlights problems before they can become an issue. Route planning and accommodations need to be evaluated before your executive ever arrives and can eliminate the element of surprise and possible complacency on the part of the security team.

3. Network – When planning travel for an executive, networking is often a tool that is underutilized by security teams. By reaching out to our network, we gain the insight of our peers and get a better understanding of the location we are planning to travel to with our client. Sometimes we can even reach out to local security teams to assist us with our security plan if our Security Needs Assessment calls for additional personnel.

4. Laws and Regulations – Just as you would follow the laws and regulations set forth when at home with your client, special attention needs to be paid to the location you are traveling to. What are the requirements for you as the protector? If you are armed, how will you be transporting your firearms and what are the local licenses required to carry your firearm? When traveling overseas, there are specific travel guidelines: Do you and your client have all the required documentation required for travel?

5. Family Members or Guests – Pay attention to who will be traveling with the executive, as they will need to be included in your Security Needs Assessment. Remember, we not only protect against threats, we also provide protection against embarrassment and confidentiality. If a companion of your client is broadcasting over social media the travel plans of the executive, it could compromise the outcome of your client’s travel.

6. Transportation – How are you traveling? When you get there, will you require transportation or will you rely on local resources? This is another area where having a network becomes a necessity. If you are unfamiliar with the destination and will be traveling by vehicle with the client, hiring a security driver from your network can be a life-saver. It can be the difference between keeping your client on their schedule and being stuck in traffic for hours.

7. Special Concerns – Are there any areas of the executive’s travel that you may have overlooked? An example would be any medical ailments or prescription medication that cannot be easily accessed when traveling. If your travel will be overseas, are there any vaccinations required or preventative medication that needs to be prescribed prior to departure to prevent diseases such as malaria?

At the Executive Protection Institute, we instruct all of our graduates to prepare for the unexpected but plan to prevent it before it happens. Executive protection is not a career that one can just jump into — it takes hours of training and years of experience for one to reach the goal of becoming an outstanding protector.

John S. Negus, PPS, CMAS, CHS III, is Vice President of Protective Operations of the International Protection Group (IPG) and Assistant Executive Director of the Executive Protection Institute(EPI) at Mr. Negus was formerly a Sergeant with the NYPD Intelligence Division.