6 Fool-Proof Security Measures Executive Protection Agents Use to Protect Their Clients While Traveling Internationally
Looking for executive protection tips to keep your clients safer during travel? If so, this article can help. The Executive Protection profession can take you anywhere globally. Many agents spend roughly 70-80% of their work time traveling. Depending on the country you are going to, you could face some serious challenges that could jeopardize the safety of your trip and your clients. So let’s discuss some of the challenges executive protection agents commonly face while traveling abroad, and some protection tips to help your next international trip go smoothly.
Executive Protection Tip – #1 The Security Advance
Agents agree that whether inside the Continental U.S. (CONUS) or outside the Continental U.S. (OCONUS), the Security Advance is the foundation of any security detail. A proper security advance will provide you with a lay of the land and allow you to mitigate risks before they can affect your principal.
A Security Advance is the information and intelligence gathering process for potential trips your principal may take. This task is the responsibility of the security detail’s advance agent. It is their job to learn everything possible about the current affairs of the country to be visited and the people your principal may visit. The advance agent should also know;
- About crime in the country and general locations to be visited
- The location of airports, police, and fire department, hospitals, U.S embassies, and U.S consulates;
- Information about the lodging and hotel accommodations and the security at those locations;
- The layouts and security measures for venues to be visited
- The driving routes to and from the airports, hotels, emergency service locations, and venues to be visited
- The local and country laws to prevent the agents or their principals from embarrassment or arrest, as some things that may be legal in your home country may be illegal in another. For example, holding hands and kissing in public in Dubai is an arrestable offense.
“Two of the biggest challenges for conducting a proper advance are most often time and money.” Many clients are frugal and may fight you on the need and cost for conducting an actual advance. Agents planning to travel abroad with principals should insist that the security advance be done, promptly explaining why it is necessary. This may also be a good time to discuss the budget implications with your client.
A properly conducted advance will help you plan for the challenges and threats you may face during your trip. It will also help you determine the level of resources (police escorts, armed security, armored vehicles, etc.) you may need to add to keep your principal safe. Advance work should be completed in person, at least two weeks to 30 days before your travel.
“Two of the biggest challenges for conducting a proper advance are most often time and money.”
Time becomes a factor when clients need to move quickly across the globe, preventing a proper advance from being done. Your only option will be to conduct a preliminary security advance via phone and the internet. Search engines like Google and Bing can provide information on your travel destinations, their managers, and security heads. Call ahead and talk to the people at those locations, let them know you are coming, and make any special arrangements necessary. You won’t regret it.
Agents may also find Google Earth and google maps valuable while conducting security advances online. These apps allow agents to view travel locations, points of interest, travel routes, and chokepoints along the way. These apps are also necessary for “Advance” work for any detail. However, there is nothing more effective at keeping a client safe than having boots on the ground for an appropriately executed security advance. Follow the above steps if time permits you from conducting an in-person security advance, then perform a thorough physical advance once you land and your principal has retired for the evening.
Executive Protection Tip #2 – Travel Warnings
Out of all the executive protection tips, this will be of the most importance. Travel Warnings are a part of your Security Advance and must be checked before confirming travel to any foreign country. Many countries are dangerous to visit, so a frequent gathering of information and intelligence regarding risks before and during your trip will be vital. A valuable resource for checking dangers in other countries is the United States Department of State. The State Department maintains a database of current travel warnings on its website. Use the website to research crime, danger, disease, and weather warnings for countries your principal may intend to travel to. Travel Warnings are rated from 1 – 4 as follows:
1. Exercise normal precautions
2. Exercise increased precautions
3. Reconsider Travel
4. Don’t Travel
As an agent, it is your job to assess the risks, advise your client of the risks, and plan to mitigate or avoid the risk as best as possible. Your principal will do as they please, but do not be afraid to advise against travel if it is not safe. For more information on Travel Warnings, visit the U.S. State Department Website.
Executive Protection Tips – #3 Protecting Your Principal
- Your security advance, risk assessment, and threat assessment will determine the level of security for your international travel;
- Ensure that you have your passport, driver’s license, other vital credentials, and copies;
- Sign up for Clear, TSA Pre-Check, and Global Entry – These will expedite your check-in. During your advance, be sure to locate airline club rooms for client privacy. If flying via private jet, you most likely will fly from companies like Signature Flight Support; the atmosphere is more exclusive with lounges and amenities that your client will enjoy;
- Ensure that there is a Kidnapping and Ransom Response policy and a Kidnapping and Ransom insurance policy in place before traveling. Review the options with your principal and legal team;
- Ensure that you have a complete client profile including all medical conditions, medications, allergies, food allergies, blood type, etc. Also, ensure that you or someone close to the principal has a copy or knowledge of any Advance Directives;
- Vet at least two security firms in the country you are traveling to, just in case you need to scale your security operation to increase your principal’s safety.
Executive Protection Tips – #4 Traveling with Cash and Currency Exchange
Cash is King when you need to get things done, and having a significant amount on you beforehand goes a long way. Cash is great for tipping door attendants, drivers, concierges, buying last-minute things for your principal, and paying for other resources and vendors quickly, but not all money is the same. As part of your security Advance, make sure that you check the exchange rate for cash in the country where you will be traveling. You can find exchange rates online at Travelex.com.
It also doesn’t hurt to have a significant amount of American money on you. There is no limit to the amount of money you take out of the country or bring in. However, if you are traveling with more than $10,000 dollars, the United States Department of Customs will require you to report it on FinCEN 105 “Report of International Transportation of Currency and Monetary Instruments.”
Executive Protection Tips – #5 Hotel Room Security
A proper security advance should cover the hotel security basics, but there must be a plan for your principal’s hotel room. This part of the security plan must be taken into consideration before you arrive, while you are there, and after you leave. Since we’ve already covered the before part, let’s talk about the rest:
- Your principal’s room should always be booked in a fictitious name. Never use your client’s name or the name of your client’s company. Often the room is booked under security’s name;
- Have an established check-in process and considerations for bag check-in. Your principal should always have the option to arrive at their location and go directly to their room if they desire;
- Your principal’s room should be swept for threats each time before they enter. You can avoid this by man posting an agent outside of the room while the principal is away – This assignment is affectionately known as Halls and Walls by E.P. agents;
- If your principal is high profile or if they will discuss business in their room, a TSCM (Technical Security Countermeasures) sweep for bugs, spy cameras, and listening devices may be a good idea. Spyware is often hidden in alarm clocks, pictures, smoke detectors, etc., in hotel rooms, so be thorough in your searches;
- Establish housekeeping rules for entering your principal’s room for cleaning, bed turndowns, room service, and other deliveries. Be sure to discuss this with hotel management and the head housekeeper before your client arrives.
- Always ensure a member of your team security has a room adjacent to or very near the principal’s room for quick access to the client in emergencies. The detail leader should also have a spare key for the principal’s room.
- Plan and know the emergency exit routes in case you must move quickly;
- Ensure all valuables and important documents are stored in a safe with limited access to the password.
Executive Protection Tips – #6 Information Protection
Corporate espionage and theft of trade secrets is big business in foreign countries. High-profile and high-net-worth principals are always subject to attempts to steal information. To increase the level of protection for your principal, always remember to do the following:
1. Avoid using hotel wi-fi or internet network
2. Avoid using business centers in foreign countries
3. Be sure to use a VPN and secured network to send and receive data information and emails
4. Use encryption when sending information
5. Conduct TSCM room sweeps of hotel rooms and meeting rooms when necessary
6. Always sweep your principal’s room and meeting rooms when leaving to ensure no sensitive information is left behind
7. Collect and shred all business or sensitive information in a shredding device brought along on the trip or take the information back to your country with you to shred in your home office.
8. Only provide sensitive information regarding your principal’s travel schedule, agenda, and locations to select individuals on a need-to-know basis.
E.P. work is E.P. work no matter where your travels take you. All great executive protection details start with a solid advance. Agents should evaluate and rate all identified risks before traveling abroad. Be sure to advise your principal of the risks and have contingency plans to mitigate them if your client decides to travel regardless of your recommendations. Develop and vet resources on the ground that can help support your security operation in the country you’re traveling to. U.S embassies and consulates can be a place of refuge. Local security and transportation companies can help augment your security detail should you need to expand to enhance safety for your principals. Remember to have a security plan to protect your principal’s information and data as well.
Stick to the executive protection business fundamentals, have a plan, adjust as necessary, and keep your head on a swivel. Follow these tips, and they should make your next trip that much easier to navigate.
Remember, planning is everything.