Safety is a concern for all business travellers, but recent research highlights the risk is higher for women and those in the LGBTQ+ community

Alarmingly, business travellers report feeling unsafe, with female and LGBTQ+ travellers said to be regularly experiencing harassment, according to a recently released survey completed by market intelligence specialist Wakefield Research on behalf of SAP Concur.

The survey of 7,850 business travellers from 19 global markets revealed three in four female business travellers have suffered harassment while traveling and more than one in two change their plans because of safety concerns.

The SAP Concur survey results clearly identify concerns of personal safety while on the road and frustration that some companies seem to put self-interest ahead of employee needs. It is clear that for business travel to provide the best return on investment, there should be a balance between the needs of the business and the needs of the traveller. In essence, in exchange for long hours worked and many miles logged, the business traveller wants to feel fully supported.

“Business travellers work in high-stress environments, and this difficult work can reap high rewards for both the employee and their employers. Given the importance of this work, employers owe it to their employees to equip them with the very best tools available, to increase efficiency before, during and after their trip, and to improve safety,” explains the report.

It also identifies that today’s business travellers want access to the latest technology to help them be both productive and safe while on the road. Technology has become an integral part of how business travellers manage each stage of their trip – and indeed their lives – but employees in general are feeling that the tech provided by their employer is lagging.

It is not necessarily not deploying tech, but providing the wrong option. The survey findings identify that today’s professionals expect the flexibility to book, plan, change, or check in for business trips through a wide variety of platforms of their own choosing, quickly and easily, so that they can go about the business of actually doing business.

But, it is safety that is top of mind for business travellers worldwide. Of the respondents, 58% said they have changed their travel arrangements because they felt unsafe, while 52% of business travellers cite travel safety as the most valuable training their company could provide.

Millennials were found to be more sensitive to current events and in the last 12 months, 42% of business travellers in this age range havd reduced travel to a location because of political unrest or health hazards, compared to 36% of Gen Xers and 23% of Baby Boomers. Nearly as many of the Millennials (40%) selected a flight based on aircraft type, compared to 33% of Gen Xers and 21% of Boomers.

The survey showed that nearly one third (31%) of business travellers prioritise their own safety as the most important factor when taking a business trip, yet over half (54%) believe safety is not their companies’ top priority.

The concerns are especially true for female and LGBTQ+ travellers though with the survey highlighting high levels of harassment and sexism on the road.

The survey findings showed, worryingly, that more than 77% percent of women business travellers say they have experienced some sort of harassment or mistreatment while traveling and 42% say they have been asked if they’re traveling with their husband, 38% have been ignored by office workers and 31% catcalled on the job.

Nearly half of young female business travellers face discrimination. Forty-six percent of Gen Z women report having been asked if they were traveling with their husband compared to 31% of Boomers. At the same time, 41% of female Millennials have been ignored by service workers compared to 23% of Boomers.

Alarmingly, 95% of LGBTQ travellers say they have hidden their sexual orientation while on a business trip. The most cited reason? To protect their safety. In fact 85% have changed their travel arrangements as a result, compared to just 53% percent of their non-LGBTQ+ colleagues.

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