By Douglas Belton
Those who have spent some time traveling are abundantly aware that the world is full of exotic incredible lands with marvels and wonders to behold. The beaches of Waikiki, the lush green hills and mountains of Ireland, and the malaise of culture and language found in the European nations rapture our imaginations and inspire our dreams of adventure.
But we are not tourist seeking a carefully calculated thrill, wind surfing or white water rafting, we are executive protection specialists and our occupation takes us into the heart of the worlds most dangerous places. We are a peculiar breed; we are the ones who rush into the gunfire while others are running the other direction. We are the ones who seek out the tough assignments because if it were not for the hot spots of the world there would be little need for our services.
Whereas others scour the globe looking for fun and excitement we look at the world with a discerning eye for danger and opportunity. A current and accurate knowledge of where the world’s most dangerous places are is a great place to begin looking for your next business opportunity. Forbes.com has published an accurate list of the world’s most dangerous places which includes destinations such as Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and others.
For the most part Forbes list’ places that are war zones, failed states, or areas somehow involved in open armed conflict. These are obviously not the places the average tourist or business person would travel to but for those whose occupation unavoidably takes them into these areas, they need protection from prepared and savvy bodyguard professionals.
That is where you come in, but preparation means more than looking at an atlas and knowing where the hot spots are. To be truly effective and efficient at protecting your client, you must look beyond the lists and understand the particulars of these highly dangerous places.
One of the mistakes bodyguards are prone to make is to use the word danger to describe a variety of environments with one generic term. The problem with this approach is that it can inhibit a person from seeing the specific threats endemic to a specific region of the world. For example, South Africa’s high crime rate can create an enormous danger, India is particularly dangerous for unprotected women travelers because of the high incident of sexual assaults, and people traveling in Mexico continue to be vulnerable to kidnapping.
There are even dangers that exist domestically in places like Detroit Michigan where violent crime threatens travelers and locals alike.
Just a cursory look at other dangerous places in the world include; Algeria for its civil war and reputation for kidnappings. Brazil is especially dangerous due to gang violence and rioting which makes it in many ways more dangerous than Iraq. Local rebellions and political disruptions make Chechnya Russia extremely dangerous.
Poverty creates an unfortunately rich environment for kidnappings and other crimes in Columbia, and Sri Lanka is fraught with rebel groups that make it a particularly freighting and dangerous place.
As a professional bodyguard it is your job to understand these dangers because your protectee is not trained in understanding the dangerous nature of travel. These people hire us so they can concentrate on what they do best and in turn, they rely on us to do what we do best. The Forbes article is a great place to gather raw data on the world’s most dangerous places but it is not enough.
You must do your research and gain an intimate understanding of all potential levels of threat to your client. This kind of preparedness is what brings value to your service but it is also an important component of your marketing plan.
Everyday people travel to distant lands to conduct business, engage in political meetings, and a variety of other reasons. Too often these people are so focused on their end objective they do not take security into consideration. These are the people who make up tomorrow’s headlines; these are the people who fall prey to bandits, highjackers, pirates, kidnappers, common thugs, and political extremist.
All of these tragedies occur in exclusion to the natural disasters and health threats that could have been avoided with the help of a professional like you. As you begin to market your services make certain you direct your potential client’s attention to your ability to steer them clear of the hazards which can claim their lives and at best cause serious disruptions to their productivity as they travel.
Be prepared to present your prospective client with a plan based upon your professional knowledge of the world we live in. Let them know that you have researched the area they are traveling to and that you are thinking in ways they may not be prepared to think. Have contingency plans ready to go and make certain you have liaised with people and organizations around the world that are vested in making your clients travel plans safe and uneventful.
Be prepared to offer safe lodging and travel alternatives based upon the professional research you have done and the partnerships you have formed with other professionals in the worlds most dangerous places.
SOUTH CENTRAL LA…WATCH WHAT U
Glad you mention South Africa, its not at war but the death rate is beaten only just by Iraq. Keeping in mind that SA is not a country at war, but is due to hold the World Champ. Soccer next year !!!!!!
Excellent slant on this topic, thanks. I enjoyed paragraph two, very interesting way to put it! Of course the other way to handle that is to try to avoid gunfire altogether.
Most VIP’s would probably rather do business in Seattle than Sri Lanka — unless they have a good reason to be there! That is ideally where we come into the picture.
An overlooked side to travel is the invaluable Passport — can’t even travel the nearby US international regions without one, such as Mexico and Bahamas, due to the here-to-stay threat from terrorism and emerging Homeland Security-driven law.
Let’s see….where did I toss that thing last night? Oh yeah, inside velcro’d coat pocket, and in the zip lock sandwich bag; or around my neck in a thin pipe bag — and still inside the sandwich bag. I’m positive it rains in Sri Lanka (but never been there to check).
Thanks again for a thought provoking article. There is more in it than meets the eye!
Douglas, Nice peice..
Very informed article Doug,and you summed it up well in your last few sentences. I qoute
“Be prepared to offer safe lodging and travel alternatives based upon the professional research you have done and the partnerships you have formed with other professionals in the worlds most dangerous places.”
It couldn’t be said no better. Nice job!!!
Nice job Doug of helping people remember to help better calibrate the nature of the risks to help them better communicate to their clients and also better lay out potential countermeasures.
This was a great read.
Great article Mr. Belton. Look forward to seeing more articles from you.