Alarming rise in safety concerns by female corporates

More than eight in 10 (83%) women say they have experienced one or more safety-related concerns or incidents while travelling for business in the past year, according to new research from the GBTA in partnership with AIG Travel.

Key findings from the survey of women travellers show that:

  • 90% say concerns about safety had an effect on activities pursued during personal time while during business travel.
  • 86% report an impact on booking behaviour, such as booking only daytime flights or a central lodging location.
  • 84% cite an impact on where they travel for business.
  • 81% indicate their travel frequency for business has been impacted by safety concerns.
  • 80% say safety concerns have impacted their productivity on business trips.

“High levels of concern have a tangible impact on business travel for women,” said Amanda Cecil, senior vice president of Professional Development and Research for GBTA. “Previous GBTA research has shown the immense impact travel experiences can have on productivity and business results while on the road. Ultimately, all travellers want to be productive and get business done, so understanding the specific risks female travellers face on the road can allow travel buyers to play a critical role in addressing these concerns.”

Taking precautions

While travelling for business, over half of women regularly communicate with the office, family or friends (58%), only stay at trusted hotel accommodation (56%) or share their itinerary with family and friends (51%), among other safety measures.

This comes as no surprise, given that 71% of female business travellers believe they face greater risk on the road than their male counterparts. Their top concerns include general safety (78%), sexual harassment and assault (72%), travel to certain countries and cities (68%) and assault or kidnapping risk (65%).

While many women stick to booking a traditional hotel for business travel (70%), shared housing such as Airbnb or HomeAway is a sizeable portion of the market (24%), and female business travellers take special safety precautions when booking both forms of lodging. When booking a traditional hotel, women who travel often look to book at trusted hotel chains, consider the safety of the neighbourhood and look for hotels close to their work site. When booking shared housing, over half say they book highly rated properties.

When it comes to ground transportation, 81% feel that rental cars are safe, while just over half (53%) feel the same about ride-sharing services. For those that use ride-sharing, 49% confirm the driver’s name and licence plate before entering the vehicle.

Gaps in managed travel programmes

Women travellers are generally confident of their organisation’s risk management programmes, as 83% believe their company cares about their safety on business trips, and 87% report feeling comfortable expressing their safety concerns to travel buyers. However, they feel more can be done for female business travellers. Over two-thirds (68%) of women who travel for work think their company should have policies that specifically address the needs of female business travellers, yet a recent survey of travel buyers revealed only 18% report having gender-specific policies in place.

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