How to Write Winning Travel Intelligence in Executive Protection

Travel intelligence means many different things to many different people. I am going to outline how I prefer to structure and curate my travel intelligence reports. What to include, what is assumed, what’s irrelevant, and so on.

The structure of my travel intelligence reports share similarities with reports of iJet, OSAC, and the US State Department. (USE WHAT WORKS!) I also abide by the principles from “Intelligence Writing Secrets for the Uninitiated.”

Travel Intelligence VS Travel Research

The focus of our travel intelligence report is safety and security of the principal (and their assets). Their assets include physical property (vehicles, planes, etc.) and intellectual property (confidential business information, trade secrets, etc.). We are also being conscious of potential threats to the principal’s image (embarrassment), potential inconveniences during travel, and more.

All information outside of safety, security, and immediate factors impacting the principal will be referred to simply as “travel research,” and this will go in a separate report for the executive protection team. Travel research should be completed well in advance of the trip because of visa and immunization requirements. Plus, if the situation at the destination is so dangerous that you need to insist on the principal avoiding this location, then it’s best to do this in advance.

The travel research should include information about the following: entry requirements, immunization requirements, background (culture, currency rates, etc.), and any preliminary security concerns. Don’t forget to research what items are contraband such as firearms, tasers, handcuffs, sat phones, etc.

Technically it’s all intelligence, but we need to agree on terms for the sake of communication.

Collection Phase (CHECK), Now What?

We started our intelligence collection phase with this in mind: “we need to address the issue of the client’s safety & security.”

Logically following that issue is the question: “What are the greatest threats to the principal during the trip (and how can they be avoided or mitigated)?

Threat ? Risk ? (Insert Synonym) ?

As an equation, Threat = Risk X Impact
(source: Executive Protection: Rising to the Challenge by R. L. Oatman)

“Risk” is better understood as likelihood, while “Impact” is simply the potential effect of the threat if it materializes.

Threats: The Big Four

In Advance, by David L. Johnson, he lists the following as primary threats: assassination, kidnapping, injury, and embarrassment. However, this list could easily be expanded to include street crime, medical emergency, and more. iJET even gives individual numerical rating-values to crime, security services, civil unrest, terrorism, and kidnapping.

Potentially, we could assign our own values to any or all of these factors, once we’ve concluded our research. We could even take into account the value designations from OSAC (crime, safety, terrorism), iJet, the US State Department, and the home country government, which may have a terror or crime designation for its cities.

These threats could easily be assigned values based on risk, impact, vulnerabilities, and security measures (mitigation).

It’s Time to Produce the Report

The report should begin with an overview or summary of your conclusions. In this summary, you need to state what the greatest threats to the principal are–preferably two or three which you discovered during your collection phase.

These threats or concerns can range from negligible to significant, and they have to be supported by evidence. For a trip to Luxembourg, maybe your primary concern is a looming strike by airport workers. But for your trip to Mexico your primary concern might be kidnapping.

After outlining our primary threats regarding the principal’s proposed travel, we will give detailed evidence to support those concerns. Further, we will give an informed recommendation for mitigating the threats.

Side note: this is up to the discretion of the policy maker/reader of the final report. They may want security recommendations from the analyst, to get an informed perspective different from their own. But if the analyst has a limited security background, then maybe the reader doesn’t want their recommendations. Their call!

After our summary, the body of the report will include detailed information supporting the conclusions we stated in our summary.

Some of this supporting information would include the following:

  • Travel alerts & warnings from the US State Department, OSAC, iJET, or others

  • Crime, safety, and/or terror ratings by US State Department, OSAC, iJET, and home country government

  • CDC travel health notices

  • Recent trends in crime: nation-state & local–especially those involving high profile victims

  • Recent social unrest & current trends

  • Past terrorist attacks in the area (with emphasis on historically symbolic dates [For more information read “Mark These Dates (It Could Save Your Life)”]

Almost Done!

We will end our report with an Appendix.

Here we can include any other supporting documentation that did not quite belong in the report. This might include a map of intended stops with areas of concern annotated, a weather forecast, relevant diagrams/statistics, and our favorite–emergency contacts!

Every book ever written about executive protection or travel safety has stated that you need to know where these are: embassies, consulates, hospitals, police stations, and more (such as secondary airport).

And… You’re Done

But you’re not really done because the situation is dynamic, conditions will change, and the principal’s itinerary will change. So continually monitor the situation, and make revisions as necessary, keeping everyone informed.


About the EP Nexus Blog

The EP Nexus executive protection blog, is a comprehensive resource for security professionals involved in executive protection, protective intelligence, threat assessment, and related fields.

Launched in March of 2016 as a resource for executive protection professionals, command center gurus, and close protection know-it-alls, EP Nexus is quickly becoming a resource for those seeking to quench their thirst for executive protection reading.

The most popular section of the blog is Executive Protection HacksEP Hacks is a series in which we address complex topics (one topic per issue) in a convenient collection of tools & writings. I am actively collaborating with industry leaders to produce future issues. If you're interested in taking an active approach in moving your industry into the future, contact me below.

Outside of EP Hacks, I explore the following topics in writings, tutorials, and webinars: online tools for executive protection professionals, open source intelligence investigations (OSINT), threat assessment, protective intelligence, travel security, and more.

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