Business travel spending worldwide reached approximately $1.3 trillion in 2016 and is expected to rise to $1.6 trillion by 2020, according to Statista.
But while business travel increases annually, business travelers are experiencing more worry about safety and security in an increasingly unpredictable world.
Consider the CWT Connected Traveler Study, which was conducted by Carlson Wagonlit Travel from March 30-April 24, 2017. The survey collected data from more than 1,900 business travelers between the ages of 25-65 from the Americas (Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico and the United States), EMEA (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) and APAC (Australia, China, India, Japan and Singapore). To participate in the study, business travelers were required to have made more than four business trips within the past 12 months.
Main sources of worry
The results found that while more than one-third (37 percent) of European travelers are concerned about safety and security, their counterparts from other regions worry more. Travelers from the Americas said that nearly half (47 percent) of the time they worry about safety and security, while Asia Pacific travelers worry the most (56 percent).
“Despite recent terrorist attacks, business travelers say they’re more worried about other things, and that’s surprising,” said Simon Nowroz, Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s chief marketing officer. “We found that, yes, the world seems scarier at times, but travelers believe they have more tools at their disposal to keep them informed and safe.”
One in five travelers has cancelled a trip due to concerns about their safety and security. And 30 percent say they’re worried about their health and wellbeing when it comes to traveling.
Surprisingly, terrorism only ranks fifth (35 percent) among safety concerns, despite the high visibility of terrorist attacks. “Forgetting something needed for work” ranked higher (40 percent), as did “losing something important” (38 percent), “being robbed or attacked” (37 percent) – and even “weather conditions” (37 percent).
Differences among travelers
The study revealed some intriguing regional differences between the Americas, Asia Pacific (APAC), and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
Only 7 percent of APAC travelers said they were “not concerned” about personal safety while traveling for business. That percentage rose to 12 percent for Americas travelers and 21 percent among EMEA travelers. This is reflected in the fact that APAC travelers appear to be better prepared, as more than half (52 percent) of APAC travelers maintain an up-to-date emergency contact profile compared to 38 percent in the Americas and only 34 percent in EMEA.
Feeling safer with technology
Interestingly, two-thirds (67 percent) of business travelers believe travel is safer today than in the past as they have more technology tools to stay aware of and mitigate safety concerns. Seven out of 10 travelers use at least one of their employer’s security protocols, such as traveler tracking or emergency contact profiles. And more than two-thirds (68 percent) buy travel insurance.
APAC travelers are also more likely to sign up for notifications of real-time risks (41 percent). Only 33 percent do in the Americas, while only 29 percent do from EMEA. APAC travelers were also more likely to know ahead of time about local medical or security services providers. More than a third (35 percent) of APAC travelers planned for these services ahead, versus 25 percent in the Americas and 20 percent in EMEA.
“Today’s travelers are sophisticated,” said Nowroz. “They’re signing up for alerts, they’re paying attention to the news and they use the available tools at their disposal. So while travel may seem risky, they’re taking steps to stay safe.”