Business travellers view terrorism as the greatest safety risk they face on the road, according to a study by the GBTA Foundation, the research and education arm of the Global Business Travel Association. Nearly half (45%) rank it as their greatest concern when travelling for business, much higher than the share indicating street crime (15%), illness/disease outbreaks/sanitation (13%), property crime/theft (12%), kidnapping (8%) or natural disasters (6%).
“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 programme.”
The Risk on the Road: Safety and Security Concerns Lead to Traveller Behavior Change study found that 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 US 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 US 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% 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.
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 travelers give terrorism an average rating of 7.6 with 60% 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.
While one-third (37%) of business travellers feel safe when they travel regardless of destination, more than half (52%) 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% of business travellers have travelled for work to a destination they or their organization consider to be high-risk. Millennials (37%) are more likely to have travelled to such a destination, compared to Gen-X travellers (27%) or Baby Boomers (25%).
When it comes to attitudes about high-risk travel, more than half (57%) 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%) of business travellers agree they would avoid travelling to certain high risk destinations even if it hurts their career, compared to 31% 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.