83 percent of 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 GBTA in partnership with AIG Travel.
"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 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, 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 percent), only stay at trusted hotel accommodations (56 percent) or share their itinerary with family and friends (51 percent), among other safety measures.
This comes as no surprise given 71 percent of female business travelers believe they face greater risk on the road than their male counterparts. Their top concerns include general safety (78 percent), sexual harassment and assault (72 percent), travel to certain countries and cities (68 percent) and assault or kidnapping risk (65 percent).
While many women stick to booking a traditional hotel for business travel (70 percent), shared housing such as Airbnb or HomeAway is a sizeable portion of the market (24 percent), 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 percent), consider the safety of the neighborhood (67 percent) and look for hotels close to their work site (64 percent). When booking shared housing, over half say they book highly rated properties (57 percent) or book full house/apartment listings (51 percent) as security measures.
When it comes to ground transportation, 81 percent of women travelers feel that rental cars are safe, while just over half (53 percent) feel the same about ride-sharing services. For those that use ride-sharing, 49 percent confirm the driver's name and license plate before entering the vehicle.
Women travelers are generally confident in their organization's risk management programs, as 83 percent believe their organization cares about their safety on business trips, and 87 percent report they feel comfortable expressing their safety concerns to their travel buyers. However, they feel more can be done for female business travelers. Over two-thirds (68 percent) of women who travel for work think their company should have polices that specifically address the needs of female business travelers, yet a recent survey of travel buyers revealed only 18 percent 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.
An online survey of 503 U.S. business travelers took place between April 18, 2018 and April 27, 2018. Respondents qualified if they self-identified as female, were employed full-time or part-time and went on four or more business trips in the past year.
Download an infographic here with key highlights from the research. A summary of findings, Perceptions of Safety for Female Business Travelers, is available exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here.
To request an interview with a GBTA or AIG expert for a deeper dive and to learn more about how managed travel programs can address women's safety, please contact Colleen Gallagher.
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) is the world's premier business travel and meetings trade organization headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area with operations on six continents. GBTA's 10,000-plus members manage more than $345 billion of global business travel and meetings expenditures annually. GBTA delivers world-class education, events, research, advocacy and media to a growing global network of more than 28,000 travel professionals and 125,000 active contacts. To learn how business travel drives lasting business growth, visit gbta.org.