We provide secure travel logistics for our clients so they can maintain their productivity and well-being wherever their interests take them. While our managers and agents always train and prepare for the worst, in normal circumstances good planning and procedures allow us to provide our principals with seamless transportation and security that they hardly notice as they move about their day.
The November 2015 Paris attacks were anything but normal circumstances, however. As it happens, we were there with a client entourage when six separate terrorist attacks shook the French capital – and threw the city into a deep state of shock and near paralysis.
The challenge: Keep our client safe and on top of events in a rapidly deteriorating security environment.
Our client, a US-based corporation with operations worldwide, had planned the major conference in Paris for many months. In attendance were thousands of stakeholders from around Europe and the rest of the world as well as the company’s top management.
When all hell broke loose on the evening of November 13th and terrorists killed 130 people, the conference was in full swing. The conference hotel was located between several of the attack locations.
In such chaotic circumstances the first priority is of course client safety. For us, in this case, this was the company’s top managers and their families. But accessing reliable information about what is happening quickly becomes critical, too, for without this, informed decisions are impossible. So, the client asked us to use our local contacts to get all the information we could to enable better decision making.
The solution: Risk mitigation and avoidance – and intensive intelligence gathering.
While our primary focus continued to be keeping our principals out of harm’s way, intelligence gathering soon became essential as well.
Within half an hour, Paris was rocked by six deadly assaults at locations across the city. No one knew whether these attacks were just the beginning or whether more would follow. Police closed some streets soon after, while others remained open. Information on what had happened and official responses emerged piecemeal through the night through social media posts and media reports.
Drawing on our contacts within the Parisian police and the French government, we were able to stay ahead of the information curve to keep the client updated and enable timely, well-informed decisions.
The result: A shortened conference and a shaken but relieved client.
Fortunately, none of the company’s participants were hurt in one of the deadliest terror attacks in recent history. As the night wore on and our intelligence gathering continued apace, the client decided to cancel the rest of the conference: general security and transportation were too unsure to risk sending thousands to a conference. Because we could combine information from our own sources with what was available through the media, the client was able to do make this difficult decision calmly and based on the best available facts, and implement it in a controlled way. Our principal decided to stay for the length of the originally planned trip. As much of Paris was locked down, including important Metro lines and buses, the client was able to make good use of the security drivers we had in place over the next few days – and the best out of a bad situation.