ALEXANDRIA, VA—More than 8 in 10 (83%) women say they have experienced one or more safety-related concerns or incidents while traveling for business in the past year, according to new research from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) in partnership with AIG Travel.
Key findings from the survey of women travelers show that:
- 90% say concern about safety has an effect on activities pursued during personal time while on business travel
- 86% report an impact on booking behavior, 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, SVP of professional development and research for GBTA. “Previous GBTA research has shown the immense impact travel experience can have on productivity and business results while on the road. Ultimately all travelers want to be productive and get business done, so understanding the specific risks female travelers face on the road can allow travel buyers to play a critical role in addressing these concerns.”
“As a travel safety advocate and as part of our organization’s commitment to educate travelers, AIG Travel feels it is important to shine a light on the unique travel considerations faced by women,” said Rhonda Sloan, head of marketing and industry relations with AIG Travel. “The research findings show that many female business travelers are aware of and concerned about the challenges they may face while traveling for work, while employers still have plenty of room to provide more guidance and resources to help women minimize those risks and experience safer travels.”
Women take precautions in many facets of their life due to safety concerns, and business travel is no different. While traveling for business, over half of women regularly communicate with the office, family or friends (58%), only stay at trusted hotel accommodations (56%) or share their itinerary with family and friends (51%), among other safety measures.
This comes as no surprise given 71% of female business travelers 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 travelers 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 (74%), consider the safety of the neighborhood (67%) and look for hotels close to their work site (64%). When booking shared housing, over half say they book highly rated properties (57%) or book full house/apartment listings (51%) as security measures.
When it comes to ground transportation, 81% of female travelers 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 license plate before entering the vehicle.
Gaps in Managed Travel Programs
Female travelers are generally confident in their organization’s risk management programs, as 83% believe their organization cares about their safety on business trips, and 87% report they feel comfortable expressing their safety concerns to their travel buyers. However, they feel more can be done for female business travelers. More than two-thirds (68%) of women who travel for work think their company should have policies that specifically address the needs of female business travelers, yet a recent survey of travel buyers revealed only 18% report having these gender-specific policies in place.
Female business travelers value the safety resources their organizations already offer, but also desire additional resources including having an emergency contact or hotline and traveler training on issues such as sexual harassment, assault and kidnapping.