Female employees have become more active business travelers in recent years, but the latest research shows that corporate travel policies have been slow to adapt to this change.
Women account for nearly 40 percent of business travelers based in the U.S., according to new research from the Global Business Travel Association and WWStay polling travel managers and buyers. And the number of female business travelers is rising even more, with more than half of those polled saying women represent a higher percentage of travelers compared to three to five years ago.
Corporate travel policies aren’t really being built with female travelers in mind, though. While 69 percent agreed that women face greater risk than men on the road, only 18 percent of policies specifically address the safety and security of female business travelers and only 21 percent have revisited their travel program due to these concerns.
“While this research revealed travel buyers are concerned about female business traveler safety, only 18 percent of travel policies specifically address female safety,” said Christle Johnson, president of the Global Business Travel Association, in a statement. “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.”
It’s hard to square this with 61 percent of those polled saying it’s very important to consider female safety when designing a travel policy.
Lodging is a major concern when it comes to female safety on the road; 63 percent of travel managers said the location of lodging accommodations are one of the safety concerns they have, with 54 percent also concerned about the type of lodging. In the age of Airbnb, this isn’t a surprise.
Safety can also be a breaking point in relationships with lodging providers, with half of travel programs advising travelers not to stay at a particular property due to safety concerns. As well, 44 percent sometimes or often reject bids during the lodging request for proposal process due to these issues. Surprisingly, however, just 28 percent have sometimes or often ended an agreement due to security concerns.
“Even though travel managers are concerned about women’s safety, most travel programs do not specifically address it in their policies, communications, or training,” the report concludes. “However, many travel programs provide general risk-related services that can help protect women.”