U.S. business travellers rate travel safety in developed and emerging destinations

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Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, London, New York & Munich top destinations travellers feel most safe

Business travellers view terrorism as the greatest safety risk they face on the road, according to a new study released by the GBTA Foundation, the research and education arm of the Global Business Travel Association. Almost half (45 per cent) rank it as their greatest concern when travelling for business, much higher than the share indicating street crime (15 per cent), illness/disease outbreaks/sanitation (13 per cent), property crime/theft (12 per cent), kidnapping (eight per cent) or natural disasters (six per cent).

“We often talk about the resiliency of the business travel industry in the face of terror threats, economic uncertainty, political unrest and other factors,” said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA Executive Director and COO. “Keeping travellers safe on the road is a prime responsibility for travel professionals. Understanding the road warriors’ fears and anxieties about business travel as well as communicating the available risk protocols and assistance services, can go a long way in building an effective risk management program.”

A decent share of respondents are wary about business travel in the emerging world as seven out of the 10 emerging market destinations measured “unsafe” or “not safe at all” by at least one-quarter of U.S.-based respondents. Business travellers generally feel developed cities in North America and Western Europe are safe for business travel as all of the mature markets tested are viewed as at least “somewhat safe” by more than eight in ten U.S.-based business travellers. However, at the same time, the share who only rate these same destinations as “somewhat safe” – rather than “safe” or “very safe” is relatively high, exceeding 20 per cent for each destination. This could reflect the fairly common view in today’s world that any destination can be high-risk.

Survey respondents were asked to rate the safety of 16 specific destinations for business travel ranging from domestic to international and developed to developing.

travel safety

Business travellers not only view terrorism as a safety threat they face on the road, but also agree it has an impact on the business travel industry more broadly and can change the frequency or ways in which people travel. When rating this impact on a 10-point scale, business travellers give terrorism an average rating of 7.6 with 60 per cent rating it an eight or higher. This implies that terrorism is more impactful than disease outbreaks, corporate budget cuts or the effects of the global economy.

travel safety

While one-third (37 per cent) of business travellers feel safe when they travel regardless of destination, more than half (52 per cent) feel safer when travelling domestically compared to internationally. Baby Boomers are most likely to feel safe when they travel both domestically and internationally.

In the past year, 30 per cent of business travellers have travelled for work to a destination they or their organization consider to be high-risk. Millennials (37 per cent) are more likely to have travelled to such a destination, compared to Gen-X travellers (27 per cent) or Baby Boomers (25 per cent).

When it comes to attitudes about high-risk travel, more than half (57 per cent) of business travellers feel that nowadays any destination could be high-risk. Baby Boomers are least likely to hold this view. In addition, almost half (48 per cent) of business travellers agree they would avoid travelling to certain high risk destinations even if it hurts their career, compared to 31 per cent who disagree. Younger travellers are more likely to worry if they did not travel to high-risk destinations, it would reflect poorly on their career.

The Risk on the Road: Safety and Security Concerns Lead to Traveller Behavior Change report is available exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here and non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailing [email protected]. Click here to view a free preview of the research.

Methodology: The GBTA Foundation conducted an online survey of 798 U.S. business travellers in September of 2016 using an online panel of business travellers. Respondents qualified if they were employed full- or part-time; had travelled for business at least four times in the past year and had travelled to an international destination for business at least once in the past year. To supplement the survey findings, the GBTA Foundation also conducted four unstructured interviews with travel and security professionals.

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