Mitigating travel safety concerns for female travelers

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by Zohreen Ismail

In a recent study conducted by the Global Business Travel Association, in partnership with AIG Travel, various perceptions of safety for female travelers came to light. The study revealed 86 percent of respondents change travel booking behavior, such as booking at central lodging locations, due to safety concerns.

The survey analyzed safety behaviors in lodging. The results showed 70 percent of female travelers booked a traditional hotel for their business in the past year, and 67 percent of those women considered the safety of location as a deciding factor when booking their hotel.n a recent study conducted by the Global Business Travel Association, in partnership with AIG Travel, various perceptions of safety for female travelers came to light. The study revealed 86 percent of respondents change travel booking behavior, such as booking at central lodging locations, due to safety concerns.

Rhonda Sloan, head of marketing and industry relations at AIG Travel, states, “We learned that when feeling unsafe while traveling, women would most likely reach out to their hotel staff for help over any other group.”

The responses for this survey were pulled from an online survey that included more than 500 female business travelers in the U.S. The respondents of the survey self-identified as female, were employed full-time or part-time, and had traveled on four or more business trips within the past year. Of these women, 10 percent identified as c-level professionals, 26 percent as upper management, 16 percent as support staff, and 44 percent as middle management. The perceptions of safety for these female business travelers link directly to hotel bookings and choosing one hotel over another.

For example, 71 percent of female business travelers feel they face a greater risk in comparison to their male colleagues, while 80 percent of women say in the past year safety concerns have impacted their productivity on business trips.

There are numerous actions female travelers take to mitigate risk on the road. For example, 58 percent regularly communicate with their office, friends, or family while traveling. Another 56 percent only stay at trusted accommodations.

Sloan states, “If a hotel owner is on a property that’s part of a globally recognized hotel brand, that is a key element in their favor.”

So, what can hoteliers do to help mitigate these safety concerns for female travelers? The top three safety concerns include:

  1. General women’s safety (78%)
  2. Sexual harassment and assault (72%)
  3. Travel to certain countries/cities (68%)

Two primary actions hotel owners can take to help their female guests feel safe are acknowledgement and education. When a female traveler is checking into your property late at night, acknowledge that she may have some safety concerns in the back of her mind and ask if there is anything you can do to help her feel more comfortable and safe at your property. A simple extension of understanding will go a long way, and female travelers will become aware that your hotel staff is available to help.

“One investment hotel owners might consider making is in ample reception staff, particularly late at night. To see a friendly face immediately upon entering the facility can do a lot to set a traveler at ease; if there can be security in the parking lot or at the hotel entrance, all the better,” Sloan says.

Secondly, educate yourself and your staff on travel safety initiatives so if a safety-concern situation happens, you and your staff will be prepared to handle it in a professional and empathetic manner.

Sloan suggests, “If owners are already incentivizing guests to fill out a survey about their stay, they should include a safety/security section on that form. This could be the most effective way to find out what improvements will really make a difference for the perception of safety at that particular property.”

There are some tools already in place to help female travelers feel safer on the road. Seventy-two percent of women said their organization offers mobile messaging, and 64 percent stated they are provided with mobile check-in capabilities. However, the survey also revealed that 63 percent believe their organization could do more to take the needs of female business travelers into consideration.

“Today’s female business traveler is inclined to be more vocal about safety concerns when traveling and, understanding this, hotel owners – and the industry at large – are in a position to learn a great deal about security needs from this audience,” Sloan concludes.

It’s important for hotel owners to brief themselves and their staff on travel safety initiatives and be aware of how their guests may be feeling. Overall, 83 percent of the women surveyed experienced a safety-related concern or incident in the past year. This statistic supports the reasoning as to why female travelers may choose one hotel over another. By taking the needs of female business travelers into consideration, hoteliers are moving toward creating a safer travel experience.

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