Business travellers and travel managers are growing increasingly worried about travel safety amid the continued threat of global terrorism, a new study reveals.
More than half (56%) of corporate buyers have seen an increase in the number of business travellers reporting heightened personal safety concerns over the past three months, and a quarter saw more requests for security training in the last six months.
In addition, 54% say travellers have expressed growing worry about travelling to the US as changes to visa requirements and immigration policies loom as part of Donald Trump’s air travel restrictions.
A majority (87%) of buyers report plans to improve safety training, with one third having introduced these changes already, 14 percent planning to introduce new scheme over the next one to two years, and 40% discussing changes internally.
The results come from a survey of 239 corporate travel buyers by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives commissioned by American Express Global Business Travel.
ACTE executive director, Greeley Koch, said: “The pace of change – and the amount of anxiety – in the corporate travel industry has accelerated tremendously over the past three to six months, and it will be critical for companies to stay ahead of the curve if their employees are to remain productive and happy on the road.
“Luckily, travel technologies are evolving just as fast – if not faster- and offering executives and planners new tools to address happiness, safety and security.”
Evan Konwiser, vice president of digital traveller with Amex GBT, added: “The modern business traveller is more vocal than ever. They are actively advocating for their own experience, with a clear focus on arming themselves with safety and security information while they are travelling for business.
“We are seeing that the behaviours revealed in 2016 research are becoming trends that the industry must consider when evaluating their existing policies and programmes.”
Eighty-nine per cent of buyers have introduced, will introduce or are currently discussing new booking apps, while 88% and 82% are taking a similar approach with trip information and travel and entertainment management apps, respectively, according to the poll.
But almost a third (31%) of buyers say they’ve seen traveller enquiries about data security increase over the past three months. Few companies, however, seem to have coherent policies in place to address these concerns.
Fifty-eight per cent say employees are permitted to use their personal devices for business communication, 64% say travellers may access public wi-fi with their business devices, and 47% allow the use of non-purged laptops and devices while on the road.
Preferences for non-traditional ground transport als0 continue to grow with 53% buyers reporting an increase over the past six months.
In addition, the use of ride shares has increased 44%, and traditional car hire and premium cars are down 18% and 32%, respectively.
However, adoption of sharing economy accommodation, such as Airbnb, seems to be slowing. Just 16% of buyers saw an increase in usage over the past six months.
Thirty-one per cent of buyers report increased work-life balance concerns among travellers over the last six months, while 43% say more travellers are asking to add leisure to corporate booking.
One-fifth also say travellers have expressed interest in having more flexibility to explore their destinations.
Konwiser said: “Business travel can be stressful, and it is no surprise that work-life balance remains a critical priority as travellers face an increasingly complex and frustrating global travel environment.
“How businesses manage this and address the needs of their employees on the road has become a key factor in motivating and retaining talented personnel.”
Koch added: “More than anything else, business travellers want certainty. They want to arrive to their destination on time, have a reliable in-flight experience, have comfortable accommodation, and perhaps most importantly, have the flexibility to adapt to conditions on the ground.
“The task for buyers will be to leverage the right tools and resources to meet these demands and alleviate the stresses of travel without breaking the bank.”
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