More than half of corporate travel buyers say they have a higher percentage of females in their traveling populations than just three to five years ago, yet nearly 70% agree that female business travelers today face higher travel safety risks.
Research done by the Global Business Travel Association in cooperation with WWStay, reveals a fast-developing irony: Awareness of the risks faced by female travelers in general and female business travelers in particular has never be higher, but only 18% of corporate travel policies specifically address matters related to the safety needs of female business travelers.
GBTA is the world’s largest association of buyers, managers and service providers involved in the $1.4 trillion-a-year global business travel market. It’s more than 9,000 members collectively book more than $345 billion in business travel and corporate meeting services annually. WWStay operates an online platform for booking extended stay accommodations for business travelers.
“As an industry we need to do more to ensure the safety of our female road warriors, especially as women make up an ever-increasing amount of our business traveler population,” said GBTA President Christle Johnson.
The researchers learned that 61% of corporate travel buyers believe that it is important to consider female safety issues when selecting lodging for their travelers. However, only 44% have arrangements in place that allow them to recommend female-friendly lodging options.
Just 31% of companies say they are more specifically focused today on ensuring a safe workplace for their female employees in light of recent news events related to physical and/or sexual abuse of women. And only 21% of business travel program managers said those same news events have spurred their companies into re-evaluating their travel programs with an eye toward providing greater security and safety for their female travelers.
Two of the biggest concerns that female business travelers tend to have are the location and the type of their travel lodging. The GBTA recommends generally that female travelers be booked into rooms on the third or higher floors of hotels to which there is very limited access from the outside, and only in hotel properties with 24-hour onsite security. The group also recommends booking only hotel rooms with double locks for both female and male business travelers. Those suggestions apply both to domestic and foreign hotel bookings.
The GBTA also recommends that companies consider providing female business travelers- at the very least, and all business travelers, ideally – registered chauffeured ground transportation, especially in foreign markets as an added layer of security risk reduction. However, the GBTA/WWStay research showed than 61% of companies’ travel programs rarely or never provide such services to female travelers.
Business travel buyers – be they company employees or contract through a business travel-focused travel agency – typically are focused on controlling costs and enforcing corporate travel policies. But over the last three decades they also have become more aware of their responsibility (and that of their corporate clients) for the wellbeing of corporate travelers while they’re on the road.
So-called “duty of care” responsibilities range from being able to direct corporate travelers to quality healthcare services wherever they might be in the world to providing for the quick, safe return of any employee who happens to be in a location where widespread violence or other dangerous events erupt unexpectedly. Increasingly, business travel managers also are recognizing the more prevalent or even unique safety threats faced by women business travelers.
The GBTA/WWStar research showed that 57 percent of business travel buyers say they have a very good ability to communicate with travelers at all times, rating their ability 8 or higher on a 10-point scale. Travel buyers also indicate that about 66 percent of all corporate travel programs offer safety/security resources via third-parties, such as travel security and travel healthcare consulting firms. Still, 18% of business travel buyers say their company does not offer an assistance hotline, which is seen as critical resource for female business travelers.