Say the words health and safety and people’s eyes are likely to glaze over.

Yet for the travel industry, overlooking this aspect can not only mean serious damage to your business but also, in extreme cases, result in loss of life.

Did you know that health and safety tops consumers’ list of holiday essentials? In total, 89% of consumers said this was a key priority when booking their holiday, according to the Abta Consumer Trends Survey 2012.

So health and safety should form an integral part of your business planning.

One of the main challenges facing travel businesses is that there are no European or global health and safety standards. The lack of standards in some destinations could mean there is a temptation when times are tough to skimp on quality to save costs.

For example, cleaning less frequently or switching off lights to save on electricity bills. Unfortunately, sometimes this can lead to health and safety being compromised, raising the risk to the customer and your business.

If you are an agent you may feel that it is hard to have control over health and safety in a resort or hotel thousands of miles away.

It may also be tempting to assume that because other companies use a certain supplier then it’s OK for you to use them.

However, if you haven’t done the necessary checks then you might be leaving yourself exposed. Today’s consumers are demanding and savvy: just as they would expect a clothing retailer to have a responsible supply chain, so too do they expect an agent to endorse the holidays it provides.

This doesn’t mean you have to personally visit every hotel on your books, but it does mean you should do some homework when choosing who to work with.

Operators historically have greater legal liabilities and responsibilities when it comes to health and safety. For operators it is vital that they take steps to ensure holidays they offer are safe.

To help you understand these issues, Abta has created health and safety guidelines. These set out company responsibilities as well as provide guidelines for specific areas of health and safety, such as swimming pools, fire hazards and children’s facilities.

Of course, no matter what precautions you take, incidents occur in the best-run resorts. Having an effective incident management procedure is essential.

For travel companies unsure of their responsibilities, we’ll be covering all of these issues at our next Travel Essentials event on March 26 and 27. While it may not be glamorous, it really is one of the most fundamental concerns for every travel business.