Women who travel frequently have almost all experienced sexual harassment or physical threats during a trip. It is something so commonplace, sadly, that it often goes unremarked upon. Whether it’s a creepy Uber driver, lush at the hotel bar, or crude neighbor during a flight, women live in a radically different world than men when they travel.

For all the talk about business traveler safety, though, more needs to be done by companies and travel managers for women who travel frequently for work. The physical risk and emotional toll endured by women should not be accepted, and this change can start at the top for the corporate travel sector.

The Global Business Travel Association and AIG partnered to poll 503 U.S. female business travelers earlier this year who went on four or more business trips in the last year. Sexual harrassment and assault, travel to certain cities or countries, and assault or kidnapping are all key concerns for women who travel frequently for work.

A disturbing 83 percent of the women polled said they have experienced a safety issue or concern in the last year. Only 53 percent of them always or sometimes report these experiences to their travel managers.

“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 the Global Business Travel Association. “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.”

Women are used to changing their habits to protect themselves, but corporations aren’t doing a good enough job providing them with support and bringing a cohesive policy regarding safety risks into focus.

A look at the data shows that nearly every aspect of a business trip, from booking to personal time during trips, is affected by safety and security concerns.

Safety Concerns Have Impacted The Following for Female Biz Travelers
Activities Done on Personal Time Off During Business Trips90%
Booking Behavior, Such as Booking a Daytime Flight or Central Lodging Location86%
Where They Travel for Business84%
How Often They Travel for Business81%
Productivity on Business Trips at Least Once80%
Source: GBTA

“Safety and security are major considerations for all travelers, but the fact remains that women might face different, if not greater, risks while traveling for business,” states the report. “While a majority of women feel confident in their organization’s ability and effectiveness to respond to safety concerns, these safety concerns occur frequently, and might not always be expressed to the organization. In that regard, travel managers and travel programs should be aware of the risks that female travelers might frequently be facing on the road, and make efforts to address and mitigate these risks.”

Accommodations also provide a challenge for female travelers as more options have become available due to the emergence of homesharing as a viable business travel option in recent years.

“In the past year, 70 percent of women booked a traditional hotel for their business trips,” reads the report. “When booking a traditional hotel, 74 percent look to book at trusted hotel chains, while 67 percent consider the safety of the neighborhood, and 64 percent look for hotels that are close to their work site.”

In comparison, just 24 percent of those polled have booked a homestay through Airbnb, HomeAway, or others. Those travelers tend to book stays in properties with high ratings and full house or apartment listings for safety reasons.

Check out the full infographic below.

Download (PDF, 351KB)

Photo Credit: A woman hailing a cab in New York City. Asim Bharwani / https://www.flickr.com/photos/modenadude/6016469846/