Posted on August 16, 2017 in Podcasts
Peter Martin of FocusPoint International Talks Natural Disasters, the State of the World, and Reasons Not to Fear Travel
In this week’s episode, Peter Martin, Vice Chairman of FocusPoint International, discusses how their CAP membership can protect travelers, different types of mishaps, the state of the world, and why you need to travel despite it all.
Full Transcript of Interview
Shofur: Welcome to the Shofur podcast. In case you didn’t catch last week’s episode, we spoke with Arleen Berardino, Director of Sales and Marketing at Marriott’s Renaissance New York Hotel 57.
Shofur: This week on the show…yeah, she was very cool. I met her at GBTA. This week we are with another friend that we met at the Global Business Travel Convention. We’re with Peter Martin of FocusPoint International. Welcome Peter.
Peter: Well, thank you very much for having me.
Shofur: Peter you’re the Vice Chairman of FocusPoint International. FocusPoint International is a travel risk management and specialist risk consulting company. Your CAP product helps travelers around the world feel safe on their trip with travel alerts, 24/7 consultance, and global rescue and resolution specialists. Does that sound right?
Peter: That sounds right.
Shofur: So what type of companies need a product like CAP the most?
Peter: There’s really no limit to it. So we specialize in organizations, in companies that have people, mobilized work forces, but it goes a lot beyond mobilized work forces if you think of universities that have study abroad programs. If you think of countries like Canada that have a high population of snow birds that travel down to the U.S. during winter time. The travel industry for example, the corporate travel programs that appreciate corporate travelers, and of course insurance companies that have high populations, or coverage of high populations of different groups of individuals that are travelling around the world. And then you can add leisure travel into that. And so individuals, everything from older people taking cruises to young very educated individuals looking for adventure travel. So it transcends really every section of the population that leaves home, and goes to see the world.
Shofur: And that’s…and problems are gonna arise in any country, right? You don’t necessarily have to be travelling to somewhere like…I would think…if I could think of a dangerous place right now, I would think of Syria or something like that. I don’t even know if you can get into Syria, but you know, bad things could happen anywhere, right?
Peter: Absolutely. And that’s one of the mistakes a lot of people make, is they’ll look at an area that they’re going to be traveling to, and they’ll look at state department, or they’ll look at an open source risk rating. And they’ll use that as the determining factor as to whether or not they’ll perhaps purchase a membership like ours, or purchase travel insurance. And that’s really a flawed methodology to this, because as we’ve seen in areas around the world, you can be stable one minute, and minutes and minute, that threat rating changes. I mean, prior to the attacks in London on the bridge a few months…
Shofur: The what rating? What is that?
Peter: It’s a threat rating.
Shofur: Oh yeah, yeah. Okay.
Peter: Every country is categorized on its risk, political, chance of political instability. Florida for example, goes into a higher risk rating during hurricane season. Okay. Are there political elections coming up? Is there instability in the country? What’s the risk of terrorism? etc. There’s a whole bunch of different factors that go in. So it’s really difficult to look at a country, take the risk rating, and then determine what your protection level, or what type of methodology you’re gonna apply to it, because that risk rating changes. It changes very quickly. There is a lot of notice before an attack, or something that changes that risk rating, or new diseases that break out, pandemics happen. So it’s really important that people take a more holistic approach to protecting themselves and just go with the methodology that it doesn’t matter where you are in the world. When you’re leaving home, where you’re going to be out in the world walking around, anything can happen at any time. And it’s important you have the proper protections in place all the time.
Shofur: And so home insurance policy is something, that’s what I would think would carry these kinds of things, but it doesn’t, does it?
Peter: Well, it depends. I’m not gonna say that it doesn’t in all instances, but what we did do in this membership program was, we specifically went through the different travel policies that were available. And we dug down to the back and we pulled out the fine print. And there’s always sections in these policies called exclusions. And what we did was we built a program around those exclusions. And what we did in essence was, we cover those. So this is meant to be set side by side with the travel insurance program. It’s not meant to replace it. It can be embedded in a travel insurance program which some of our customers are doing. Or it can give you that extra piece of mind knowing that your insurance policy isn’t gonna cover everything. It doesn’t matter if it’s your travel insurance policy, your home, your auto. There’s always going to be fine print in those documents. We’ve found that, brought it out, and built a program around it.
Shofur: And I looked on your website, you’re even partnering with insurers. Insurers have looked at this, and said, “Well good, this is good ancillary coverage. We’ll just add this, or bundle it in,” for corporate customers I think?
Peter: Yeah. For their customer base, and they, you know, see fit to put it into whatever programs they want to. But it was probably the biggest validation of what we were doing. Initially when we came out, we weren’t sure how the insurance industry was going to react to it. And to have insurance companies come forward and ask if they can embed that product into their insurance programs knowing that it covers things that they don’t, and openly telling the policy holder that this is a CAP product by FocusPoint meant to enhance the coverage they’re getting. It was a real “aha” moment for us. It was a real validation of what we do is necessary. It’s valued, and that it was timely.
Shofur: It really is valued. As we’ve being preparing for this podcast, I’ve being telling folks around the office, so I have a teenage son, and years ago…I’m gonna sound like a scaredy cat right now. But you know, years ago I would tell him, “Oh son you know, I can’t wait for you to be old enough for you to backpack across Europe.” And maybe I’ve seen too many Liam Neeson movies, or something like that, but I have become a little more trepidatious about that. And then I saw your product and I was like, “And it’s very reasonably priced, right? I can buy it.”
Peter: It is.
Shofur: You have a B2C version and a B2B version, right?
Peter: We have a CAP only program which is our security parallel set of covers, and then a CAP+ which adds the medical piece to it for an encompassing product.
Shofur: Right. And the medical piece…what is included with the medical piece?
Peter: There’s a lot of parallels that we cover but think of it again as the exclusions into travel policies, or policies that cover medicals. So for example, policies under insurance will repatriate you when you’re sick or injured to the closest hospital on record that has the capabilities to deal with your injury, or your illness. Our program, our membership brings you home. You’re medically stable for flight commercially, we’re gonna put you on a plane and bring you home. If you’re not, we’re gonna bring your family to you and have somebody, a support mechanism. So if you’re in the hospital for a few weeks, and you can’t go home, we’re gonna make sure that there’s family, or friends there around you to help you through the healing process, and make sure that they can support your recovery. These are the little pieces that can be expensive at times, and that’s why they were built in exclusions for the majority of the policies that are out there now.
Shofur: Being surrounded by friends and family is going to help someone recover?
Peter: It absolutely is. A support mechanism during recovery is without a doubt the most important pieces.
Shofur: Yup. And so you must be adjusting the risk factors for different areas of the world on a daily basis I would imagine?
Peter: We don’t do it on a daily basis because again it’s very fluid. We know what regions are having the most challenges, and we think are gonna continue to have the most challenges. So the price level is varied depending on the regions that you go to. And on our ecommerce portal, what we’ve done is, we’ve made it very easy for individuals to go and type their information in and price out a trip. You mentioned earlier about it being relatively cost efficient, or cost effective. And we wanted that. We don’t believe in selling products to people through fear. And when people are afraid, and looking for things that help ease that fear, that’s not the time to be predatory in your sales process, or your pricing methodologies. What we want is, we want people to buy this no matter what your economic status is, no matter if you’re a student, and you know, you’re working two jobs to put yourself through school, we wanted to make the price point available to everybody. So that they really can use this product to enhance their safety around the world.
Shofur: Because you’re addressing things that people, you know, people’s imaginations get really carried away, but this isn’t stuff that just happens in the movies. I mean, people get kidnapped, and I don’t want put words in your mouth. So I’ll just go ahead and say it. You know, people can get kidnapped, I mean, I know that my wife, if she were here she would be talking about human trafficking going on and on.
Shofur: I mean that’s the kind of stuff that goes on in parts of the world now. Now, I was born, and raised in the U.S. and so I haven’t being to all these parts of the world. So crazy stuff happens, all right. For example, I looked on your website. I guess there’s different types of kidnapping, right?
Peter: There is. There’s several different kinds.
Shofur: Talk about that. You guys are experts in this stuff, that’s what you do.
Peter: Okay. So bad guys are very innovative, right? So they look at kidnapping as an industry, just like we look at transportation as an industry. And what they’ve done, is they’ve taken traditional means, kidnap for ransom, and they’ve looked at it, and they saw it had a very mature trajectory, and the ability, you know, there’s so very sophisticated methodologies of counteracting that. People are more aware, the police are more sophisticated in their methods of tracking the individuals. So they decided to branch off and invent a few different clients, and they continue to evolve. But really I think, you know, the two most prevalent ones we’re dealing with now are what we call virtual CAP kidnappings, and express kidnappings.
Peter: So virtual kidnapping is very simply where somebody is not kidnapped but a ransom demand is made to the family alleging that they have custody of that person. So think of this, if you go to the swimming pool, and I know you go to the swimming pool every day at 3:00. And at 3:00 you’re not gonna be able to answer your cell phone because you’re at the swimming pool. That would be a perfect time to call your wife, and say, “I’ve got Mike. I’ve got him held hostage right now. I need $5,000 immediately, paid to me, wired Western Union, then mail it to me, and we’ll release him.” If your wife wants to verify, she’ll call the cell phone, or ring. Your phone will ring, she’ll won’t be able to reach you. Sometimes there’s somebody in the back that adds some audio narratives. Some crying for help, a little bit of noise and scuffling to really enhance it.
Shofur: Oh my Gosh.
Peter: That’s very well done. And what they’re doing is looking for low amounts of money, low threshold. This is a volume play. So they’re looking at an amount of money that people can access easily, and get that ransom paid very quickly, and then they move on. And really when you can’t find that loved one, or you can’t reach them, are you really gonna gamble that they don’t have them? Now what we’re seeing in this trend, is we’re seeing a lot of individuals…yeah, this is very concerning. So this is individuals that are not only traveling business people, but locals as well are being targeted by this. And then there’s the express kidnapping. What that basically is, targeted towards tourists that people in country that have some semblance of money. When I say some semblance, I mean access to money. ATM cards, or credit cards. Kidnappings generally happen in the evening. A lot of kidnapping gangs will sit outside of bars, and wait for westerners to come out of bars clearly intoxicated, not aware of their surroundings.
Shofur: Sure. That’d probably be me.
Peter: Well, that’s a lot of people. It’s a very target rich environment. Go to certain areas. And they kidnap that individual, they employ some violence. They’ll put them in the trunk of a car, they will drive them around, scare them very badly, threaten to kill them. Usually take them to an ATM machine, and drain their accounts to the limit that they’re able to out of the machine. And the reason why they target the evening time is because a lot of the bank cards reset at midnight. So if your daily limit of $5,000 is hit, it isn’t actually 24 hour clock. It resets at midnight. So if I take you to a bank machine, and I drain your $5,000 limit 11:55, I only need to keep you in the trunk of the car till 12:05 and the limit resets, and we can get another $5,000.
Shofur: Oh my gosh. Right, because I’m inebriated and it’s after midnight, it’s perfect. Oh my gosh.
Peter: So they hit the ATM prior to midnight, they max out your limit on your credit cards, on your cash. Think about an ATM, and then right as soon as midnight happens, that’s a 24 hour cycle. They reset your daily limits, and they’re able to extract another amount of money. Those individuals depending on how much they resist, and how easy, or how compliant they are generally are released with some minor injuries, but they live to see another day.
Shofur: Wow. And so you and I both have kids. Mine’s…right, Okay, I have a 20 year old and a 15 year old. It sounds you have a high-schooler.
Peter: I have a 20 year old and a 17 year old and my 20 year old is starting his study abroad program in the U.K. here in September.
Shofur: So what advice do you give that child?
Peter: Well, I told him to buy CAP.
Shofur: Of course, of course. It goes without saying, right?
Peter: I gave him the same advice that we give our clients. “Go see the world.” You know, for the leisure traveler, you have choices on where you go. My son knew he wanted to be in the study abroad program. There was three countries he could select, and basically the U.K. England was the one that he was given. He doesn’t get to choose. He can void his study abroad opportunity, but that would be a real shame. You know, and as things are getting a little bit worse in the U.K., sometimes there is a propensity to say, “Well should I travel, or shouldn’t I travel?” Well of course, you should travel. It’s no different than anything else that’s going on in the world. You need to travel smart. You need to have the proper protections. You need to have training, situational awareness. You need to understand, when you go into a restaurant, you don’t sit up by the windows, you sit towards the back, right? You need to know where your exits are. You need to know what escape route is. You know, you need to look for suspicious packages. You don’t want large crowds of people with vehicles that have been parked for long periods of time. These simple things that I guess they’re simple to us, but that we train our clients saying, “And if you apply those types of methodologies to your travel, the chances of something happening to you are very small.”
Peter: “But where you do have those potentially happen, our program is specifically designed to have a response mechanism to that.” Then that’s where the travel insurance policies and other programs really, I would say aren’t as robust. Because there’s somebody you can call, but that’s not necessarily gonna get you a responser up, as we call us. So what, out of it. And with our program, when you need that membership you can access it, it’s not insurance. So there’s no claims to fill out that you can’t…you’re not gonna be denied. There’s a lot of technicality in terrorism coverage that you can buy as a writer in insurance that will say, “Well if you’re not affected by the bomb blast, you’re not covered.” Or there’s what we call hard triggers. If the state department doesn’t declare a country a travel risk, then your exit from that country isn’t really covered by the insurance, where with us it is. We put that knowledge, I should say knowledge. We put the power in the travelers’ hands to know when they’re in danger, or when they need help, and when they call that number, that rings into our command center. And you get a live person that assesses the situation, helps make sense of it, looks at it at a macro and a micro level, so they could really understand the risks involved. Communicate those risks to the people, and then initiates a plan. Everything from a shelter in place, if there’s a protest outside the hotel, and rescheduling your meetings, or rescheduling your exit to…in Brussels when the bombs went off, airspace was shut down, it’s collecting people at a hotel and taking them to Amsterdam because Amsterdam’s airspace was open.
Shofur: Oh, and you did that with a bus? David and I talked about that.
Peter: We did. We absolutely did.
Shofur: Right. And I have to get that in there because we’re a charter bus company. So I gotta get in the plug.
Peter: No, it’s interesting you say that because ground transportation is our absolute go to when these things happen. Airspace gets closed, there’s no fly zones, I mean, you’re on the ground. And foot really isn’t in large areas. It isn’t really a real means of getting people out especially larger groups. So our connection with buses and ground transportation is enormous. They are a very key essential part of our plans.
Shofur: It makes a lot of sense. This is a little bit of a tangent but we did a piece recently on entertainers that travel around the country, and a lot of them choose ground.
Shofur: Right, because just there’s so many variables and so many unknowns of just getting in the air.
Peter: And it gives you control.
Peter: When they set a flight path, I don’t have any control over where I’m going. With a bus, I can choose the route. I can choose my departure times. I can delay if there’s an incident brewing, I can go around it. I can return home. It gives you a lot more flexibility. And properly done with proper planning, it is a great means of transportation.
Shofur: Absolutely. We do that every day. David, when we get off the air, we’ll have to put you in touch with our Dev folks and talk about it doing something with you guys. The other thing that I wanted to talk about that I saw on your website was this somehow ability that you have to go into countries and you mentioned earlier where some countries, their status is not such that…the state department is gonna be concerned about someone’s exit from the country. But somehow you guys can just bypass all that and just get them out anyway. How does that work?
Peter: It’s complicated and I don’t wanna say that to make it sound mysterious. I mean what we do is pretty straightforward and how we apply the methodologies. But we don’t wait for the state department or for other government agencies that dictate whether or not there’s an action that needs to be taking place. So we’re not interfacing through the state department and embassies or consulate. We’re interfacing directly with the client. And what we do is we have resources in countries that are staged in areas that have very quick access to the places our people are traveling, or in those countries that they’re traveling. And what that does, is it gives the ability to actually have what we call a “boots on the ground” intelligence view. So we’re not watching CNN to understand what’s happening, because those aren’t always very accurate views. You can look at a massive protest, and think the country is burning, and then look three inches to your left and three inches to your right, and see all the roads are open. And you can simply just walk out of that situation. So we’re really getting a 360 degree view of what’s happening, and we’re really helping our clients make sense of it, calming the fears, really bringing a lot of experience into the situation to help them understand really what the dangers are here. And then from a duty care stand point, making sure that the solutions provided is equal to the threat.
Shofur: And your customers don’t have to worry about whatever politics, or whatever gates are in place?
Peter: Nor should they have too. That’s our job.
Shofur: Right. You’re just gonna physically get them out of the area.
Peter: Yeah, and a lot of times what we do is, we physically shelter them in place until the incident…if they’re in a safe area, and there’s a bomb that’s gone off at an airport, and they’re in a hotel six miles away, there’s no need to move. And there’s a lot, you know, companies, and competitors will tell you, “We gotta go to ground, we gotta move,” and they want it to be, you know, it’s like something out of a movie, and sometimes it is. But for the most part, you know, if you’re in a safe area, and we can get assets to you, there’s access and egress to the area, so there’s no restrictions should we need to evacuate then really, you’re in a safe place. There’s really not a lot of reasons to move at that point but a lot of times it’s talking the clients through, and then being able to liaison with the government to understand, are things gonna be shut down? When will they be open? What visas are required into neighboring countries to get people out? Because it’s not all like the European Economic Union where you can free travel. There’s countries that sit side by side that require visas going across. We do all of that work, so that the client themselves, all they need to focus on is themselves, or their business, and we take care of everything else.
Shofur: And tell me about what’s happening on your customer’s phones while they are travelling abroad? David had mentioned, back to the Brussels incident that there was some kind of push notification. What am I experiencing on my phone if there’s a problem where am at?
Peter: So embedded into our CAP program, we’ve got an end to end service for duty of care and what it does is it enables us to track every aspect of that client’s travel should they want that. So right from the time that they go wheels up in the airplane, we can track that flight to the time it lands on the ground. And then we can track them using geospatial technology from their phones. So we’ll know where they’re at, we can set the tracking rate, that’s what we call a breadcrumb trail which is very, very often, or we can set it to locate the person every hour. The application itself allows them to have a panic button that they can push if they’re in any type of danger. It opens up a one way communication back to our command center, so our command center can hear what’s going on should there be an incident of physical nature, the person’s unable to respond. They’re incapacitated, anything from medical issue to a security issue, or what it would do when they hit that button, is it opens up two way communications where the command center will then call them back. And if they’re able to talk, will immediately engage them, and start implementing our CAP program at getting a solution for whatever problem they’re facing.
Shofur: That’s so cool. And so my son will have to download an app onto his phone I guess?
Peter: Which he’ll love, yeah.
Shofur: Your app, all right. I have to believe that the folks that handle these situations, there’s gotta be some folks with military background. Or what kind of…what am I asking? That the folks that work for you, surely you need them to have some kind of logistical experience with this that could only come from the military?
Peter: Not always just the military. There’s a lot of people that have been in private security. There’s people that come from the disaster management side of it. There’s people that come from the medical side of it. We have doctors and nurses on staff. We have a medical director, so, that aren’t necessarily all military trained. Everything that… What you’ll find is there’s a very high degree of ex-military expertise in our ground truth operational people. So the people that are in country that are actually doing the work. And the reason why we use them is because they’ve got a specific amount of knowledge, they’ve worked in these countries. They know the languages, they know the customs, they know people, they have contacts, they can get things done on the ground.
The people in our command centers, there’s a high rate of military background as well but there’s also medical background. There’s security background. Sometimes there’s diplomatic state backgrounds, so that from the diplomatic security service which works contacts at the embassies. There’s a lot different pieces that come together, but what you can be assured is that every single person in our operation has got an extensive, verifiable resume, and they’re battle tested.
Shofur: Man. And Peter, what can you tell us about the origins of the company? How did all these get started?
Peter: Right. So Greg Pearson, our CEO was really the person who came together with this. And if you talked to Greg he’ll tell you it came out of a need in talking to individuals previous, that he had coverage for. So he was working in Iraq, for another company, and there was a provider that did evacuation services. And he made the comment one day, “Well, you know, if we need to be evacuated, our people need to be evacuated, who are you gonna call?” And without any ounce of exaggeration he said, “We’re probably gonna call it FocusPoint.” And that was a bit of an “aha” moment for Greg in the fact that the way that the industry sometimes purports to have certain resources that they don’t have, or they’ll exaggerate their abilities, and capabilities. And from that point, Greg stepped back, and said, “I think there’s something here.” And what he looked at is how the companies that do what we do are actually promoting the service, and then what’s the program in place? Because when you go in with our experience and you start talking about duty care and travelers’ management, and kidnap response, people just get very excited and some don’t understand.
Shofur: It’s a lot of energy around it.
Peter: It is.
Shofur: It really is.
Peter: But that’s why the CAP program was built so that it fills that niche. There is no other product. We have no competitors in this space. There’s nobody else that has a fully indemnified membership program on the market. And what that does is, that gives the client the ability to see and touch what they’re getting. The response, the people behind it, that’s the people behind the papers we say. But the program development in itself gives the company something they can touch, and really gives them a court defensible duty care program.
Shofur: Because, and I guess it sounds like the big pivot there, is being a government contractor and serving the government. And I’ve heard Pentagon officials say that they’ve got a contractor problem. Not a problem for you necessarily.
Peter: I understand.
Shofur: Perhaps a problem for us as taxpayers, maybe, I don’t know. But then the pivot is taking that, and then just taking it directly to the consumer and say…right.
Peter: Absolutely. And making it uncomplicated. When you look at insurance, there’s a lot of legal language in there. The people tend to avoid, and they just put it in the drawer. They’ll at the broker and say, “You’re sure I’m covered?” “Yes, you’re covered.” And they leave it to somebody else to decide. The CAP programs builds the simplicity and it allows the person to take control of their safety. Really understand what their getting, what they’re not getting. The explanation of the parallels is usually about three sentences long to what is violent crime? What is natural disaster? What isn’t? So they truly understand, and then a lot of education around how do you use it? Which is a piece that’s missing. Sometimes, you know, you’ll get a program, they’ll give you a card, and say call a 1800 number. Well, when? How? What do I ask? What do I say? What do I need to have? What information are they gonna ask me? We spend a lot of time telling the clients about the CAP experience and what it means to have CAP, and how to use it properly.
Shofur: And it sounds like you put a lot of energy into speaking to them in plain English?
Peter: You have to make it simple.
Shofur: I mean, I’m a marketing guy, and what I’ve learnt from years of experience is the more language you use, the less…the more freaked out people get. And the more they’re thinking well, you’re just putting in contingencies to cover yourself.
Peter: Sure. Absolutely.
Shofur: So when you do the work to make your language concise and tight, they trust you more. They’re like okay, you’ve thought this through.
Peter: The biggest failure in our business from my perspective is for somebody to have a coverage or have the ability to get help, and they don’t engage it. And when you ask them why, they say, “Well I didn’t know I could do this,” or, “I didn’t know that I was covered.” That’s something we hear all the time. “I didn’t know or I thought I was covered. I thought I was covered. I didn’t know how the program worked. I didn’t want to call that number because I didn’t know what they would ask me.” There’s is no bigger failure in our industry than if somebody is covered by your product, and you haven’t done the absolute…given them, you know, exercise the moral obligation to make sure they understand that product. And then when they’re in danger, they can get the help that you sold them. That’s the biggest piece of what we’re doing.
Shofur: Yup. And it’s the critical piece. You know, I have cynically reached the point where whenever I have some reason to file a claim, I know you’re not insurance, I know it’s membership.
Shofur: But just speaking about insurance, I have become so cynical that I usually go into a situation assuming that everything’s gonna go wrong. And you’ve addressed that.
Peter: And you are about 75% of the population. If you look at studies that are done in the travel industry, certain times less than 4% of people that have engaged their insurance have actually come out and had a positive experience, and/or said that everything was as they thought it was. We’re working with a major organization right now that just displays another provider and they’re providing CAP as an embedded part of the annual membership. And the big thing that really brought that forward, was the fact that several of the members had tried to access the previous program, and it was not as advertised. And the experience was bad. So what we’re striving to do is to be exactly what we say we are. If we say we’re gonna do it, we’re going to do it. And by giving people, by making a membership program that people have the power to access, it doesn’t have to be a travel warning, there’s no hard triggers. Nobody else is telling you what danger is and what danger isn’t. It puts the power back in the people’s hands, and they don’t have to fill at a claim, they don’t have to be told, “Yes you are in danger.” We don’t treat them like children, right? You buy something, you wanna have access to, otherwise it has no value. And that’s really the value of this program.
Shofur: Right. And you’re speaking to the truth of just human beings. I’m thinking of a statistic I heard once that, when someone decides to litigate a medical case, you know, or for medical malpractice, a huge, huge factor in whether they decide to go ahead and sue or not is how that doctor treated them. What that doctor’s bedside manner was.
Shofur: I mean, it’s probably a five minute interaction but, I mean, what a huge driving factor behind someone decides to sue or not and I can just, I mean, we know how people are. You know, just what you say in your heart is that doctor was mean. And, you know, he just was mean to me, or she was mean to me. So yeah, I’m totally gonna sue versus no there was something in me that picked up on an intent.
Shofur: And did that. Even if they got it wrong, even if they did make a mistake, you know, they tried. Their heart was in the right place. No I’m not gonna sue.
Peter: But what’s wrong with bad bedside manner it can look like intent. These programs are really meant to be all encompassing. I had somebody we were talking to, and looked at me and said, “Is it really that good?” I looked at him and said, “I use it to cover my family.”
Shofur: Yeah, that’s the best testimony there is.
Peter: My kids, and it’s not…they don’t wear t-shirts that advertise it but that’s what’s in their wallet. It’s not another program, it’s not another insurance. It is that program specifically and I will tell you as true as I’m sitting here that if my son is in danger, our command center is the first place I want him to call. And those people know that everybody that calls in there, the assumption is that it’s our kids. Your own kids. Your own family that needs that help. And if you go with that premise of what we have, the client experience when people have iTune engaging, our net promoter scores are off the charts. I mean really.
Shofur: And it’s worth repeating. I mean, even though it looks like a partners like Cigna Global Health Benefits, bundle CAP in with them, I the consumer can just go on your website and buy this for myself. And I don’t wanna get…I mean, the prices that I saw, and please correct me, I mean, it looked like I could get this for my son for under 20 bucks a month or so. I don’t know, I don’t wanna…
Peter: It’s not on a monthly membership. So we have two types. So you can buy it per trip up to a 180 days. So if you have a seven day journey, or 10 day journey up to 180 days out of country, or you can buy an annual membership. If you’re a frequent traveler, and you don’t wanna go on to log on all the time, you can buy an annual membership. If you’re looking at a trip to Europe for example, Western Europe, and this ballparking depending on different factors, it can be as cheap as a $105. And if the person wants to then go into Russia, and spend a couple of weeks in Russia, it goes up to about $40 for the entire term. So for $140 to have 10 security parallels, 14 medical, and the ability to get help when you need it, I really don’t see why somebody wouldn’t.
Shofur: As a parent.
Peter: Well, look at the average cost of a medical charter home, $172,000 and we’ve case studies within our program which will show clients that have called us that we’ve actually had to engage our services, and what those bills were. I’ll give you a very quick example. There was a bill of an extraction of individuals from Haiti, and the total bill for the company was $210,000. If they had had CAP, the total bill would have been $327,000.
Shofur: Oh my gosh.
Peter: And those are live…those are not exaggerated. Those are live examples of where we’ve gone in for people who don’t have CAP, and we’ve tallied it with the bill is, and then bounced that back against what it would have been had they had the coverage. And it really is that simple. It really is that simple. So to your point, yes. We work with corporations, we work with travel management companies, we work with insurances companies, but we also just work with, you know, regular people. We don’t want this to be exclusive to companies since the travel insurance in the market. We want people to have the power, and we’ve built it to be very simple. We understand that not everybody has the same level of acumen when it comes to computer skills. So we wanna…
Shofur: Oh that’s the truth.
Peter: You look at some of the older individuals that are booking travel online, right? And maybe the computer skills at times, some are better than younger people, some are not. But we’ve built it so it makes it very easy to put the information, and get the information back out, and then understand how to use it.
Shofur: Yeah. I’m fascinated by what your view of the world must look like and how, you know, a CNN or Fox News headline hits your brain. What’s going on in the world? I mean, tell me what your thoughts are?
Peter: The world, we call it, is not trending well. And when we say not trending well, it’s undeniable that there are certain factors that are going on. Increased amount of terrorism in Europe right now. We’ve got spiking kidnappings in Mexico, Latin America is suffering more opportunity crimes, street level crimes. You’ve got instability in Venezuela. In our industry it’s easy to sell fear. If I wanted to sell you fear, I can just pull up CNN, and run down the top 10 lists but the fact of the matter is, if you look at the amount of people that are actually affected by these incidents, the amount of people, the world is relatively safe. And from a business travel standpoint, you don’t have the choice to go to travel. If you have an operation on Lahore, Pakistan and your boss says, “Go there and check out the operation,” you have to go unlike leisure travel. So the program is built towards that. We’re seeing an increase in natural disasters around the world. So it’s really geographical, I mean, we’re looking at diseases, and pandemic potential outbreaks in Africa. We’re looking at terrorism in Western Europe. We’re looking at kidnappings in Mexico. Central America’s increased crime rate right now and in some areas of Latin America. So the threat’s ebb and flow and some of the areas of concern in the terrorist side of it is we’re seeing an increase in what we call unsophisticated attacks. So instead of amassing bombs and guns and having very sophisticated plans that require surveillance etc. a lone individual in a vehicle in a heavily populated area can do a lot of damages we’ve seen. And those are very hard to plan against, and they’re very hard to counter act, because there isn’t a lot of sophistication that can be picked up in intelligence. So, you know, we monitor these things, but as we tell our clients, you know, we’ll give you…if you go to some of our competitors they all have a heat map. And there’s a lot of red on the heat map. And what I’ll tell you is that, you can’t say an entire country is red, all right. You can say portions of it are, or at certain times depending on things.
Shofur: What you say is very profound. And I love the fact that you’re not planning on fear. It’s easy to go there. I’m sitting here, and feeling it, you know, like, “Oh men, all the red, you know, [inaudible 00:34:31] you are too,” all the stuff that could go wrong. So I feel like you’re doing a great job of walking a fine line here.
Peter: There’s a lot people in our industry that have made a very good living scaring people that don’t have the information to counteract what they’re being told. And there’s a large reason why if you, I don’t know, at the GBTA if you noticed, that the travel insurers were a little leery about the security industry. They tend not to have a warm and fuzzy, because the security industry has been telling people, “It’s terrible, don’t go, don’t travel.” Well, the business travel industry survives on the possibility to travel. So we’ve taken a bit of a different take. What we’ve said is this, we’re gonna tell you what the real risks are in plain English and we’re gonna give you a program that allows you to travel with confidence. Go travel.
Peter: Go see the world. You have too.
Shofur: Because for everything that winds up on the evening news, and I don’t have the statistic to support this, but I know that I’m right. You know, I feel it in my heart that I’m right. For every bad thing you see on the news, or that scares a mom, there are, I’m just gonna throw out a number, there are 900 interactions between human beings just like this. We’re just having a conversation. Anywhere you’re from.
Shofur: What do you do? How’re you doing? You know, can I give you a ride somewhere?
Peter: And you have to keep it in perspective. Globalization is not going anywhere.
Shofur: No it’s not.
Peter: I mean, there’s a lot of talk about it, but when you look at it businesses are going global. People want to see the world. Younger people are getting back out, millennials want experiences, they’re going to different places. They don’t wanna go to the French Riviera, they wanna go to Afghanistan and go hiking. They wanna go backpacking. They want adventure travel. They want experiences. So like it or not, people are gonna to go to these places. So our job is to help them go there safely with a lot of information, and if something goes wrong, to have a realistic response plan to get them out. And that’s really what an end to end duty care solution is. It’s not just tracking people, it’s not just having a 1800 number. It’s having an entire end to end program from the time they go in the country, while they’re in the country, they get out of the country, and if they have a problem, a measured response program which meets their needs and actually mitigates the risk.
Shofur: My guest today is Peter Martin with FocusPoint International. Their website is focuspointintl.com. No matter where you travel in the world, you know you’ll be safe with FocusPoint International CAP membership. We’ll be back again soon with more news on transportation and technology. Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, android or other sites so you don’t miss it. Thanks to Shofur for sponsoring this podcast. Shofur is the most trusted bus reservation service in North America. The company currently serves more than 100 cities nationwide and has logged more than five million miles with no accidents to help more than one million customers get from one point to another point faster. Looking for your next transportation need to be fulfilled? Contact Shofur today at 1-800-436-8719. Peter, thanks again for being here.
Peter: Thank you very much for having me.
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