Female business travellers feel unsafe

A woman travelling for business.

According to new research from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and AIG Travel, a worrying 83 per cent of women – more than eight in 10 – have experienced at least one if not more safety-related incidents while travelling for business over the past 12 months.

The research also found that 90 per cent of female business travellers said that safety concerns had impacted the choice of activities they opted to pursue during leisure hours while travelling for business; that 86 per cent had changed booking behaviours as a result of safety concerns, i.e. only booking daytime flights or a central location for accommodation; that 84 per cent cited an impact on where they agree to travel for business; that 81 per cent had altered the frequency of their business trips; and that 80 per cent had found that safety concerns had impacted their productivity while travelling for business.

“As a travel safety advocate and as part of our organisation’s commitment to educate travellers, AIG Travel feels it is important to shine a light on the unique travel considerations faced by women,” commented Rhonda Sloan, Head of Marketing and Industry Relations at 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 minimise those risks and experience safer travels.”

The top concerns cited by respondents to the research were general safety (78 per cent), sexual harassment and assault (72 per cent), travelling to specific destinations (68 per cent) and assault or kidnapping (65 per cent). As a result of these, many respondents reported modifying their behaviours; this could include keeping in regular communication with their office, friends or family (58 per cent); only staying in accommodation that was known to them, such as a familiar hotel (56 per cent); and sharing their itinerary with family or friends (51 per cent). Eighty-one per cent of respondents said that they considered rental cars to be safe, compared with only 53 per cent who thought the same of ride shares.

Employers, take note
“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.”

This is where the likes of Managed Travel Programmes come in; but while 83 per cent of research respondents said that they believe their employer cares about their safety while travelling, 68 per cent said that they thought more could be done specifically to address women’s concerns. However, according to a recent survey of travel buyers, only 18 per cent report having such gender-specific policies in place.