A new Global Business Travel Association report reveals that many business travelers’ biggest safety concern is terrorism, despite the fact that other risk factors, such as theft or street violence, are much more likely.
Business travel is full stressful elements, and one of them is staying safe while on the road.
According to new research from the Global Business Travel Association, concerns about safety always linger in the background for road warriors. That’s not a surprise, but what might be surprising is the risk factor they are most worried about: terrorism.
According to GBTA’s survey of business travelers for Risk on the Road, 45 percent of respondents ranked terrorism as their top concern, above street crime (15 percent), illness or disease outbreaks (13 percent), and property crime or theft (12 percent).
Media coverage of terrorist incidents in the U.S. and Europe could be driving these concerns, the report notes, even though fatalities from terror attacks have affected Americans only rarely since 2002.
“These statistics could explain why travel programs do not focus on terrorism as much as they focus on other risks, according to experts interviewed,” the GBTA report states. “These other risks—such as illness, political instability, natural disaster, and theft—are far more probable and can be more easily prevented or mitigated through an effective risk management strategy.”
The report notes, however, that terror attacks can have a negative impact not only on individual travelers, but also on the business travel space as a whole. At 7.6 out of a 10-point scale, terrorism is the largest factor affecting business travel, according to the poll—topping local and regional disease outbreaks (7.3) and corporate budget cuts (7.1).
Terror fears can also affect how business travelers view the safety of specific cities around the world, with cities in North America and Europe seen as the safest. More than half of respondents rated Washington, DC., London, New York, and Paris as “safe” or “very safe,” even though each has experienced at least one terror attack since 2001. (Paris, the target of a terror attack in 2015, had a lower rating than its peers, with 52 percent of people considering the city safe or very safe.)
Countries in other regions of the world, including Turkey, Mexico, and Brazil, were more likely to be seen as unsafe by business travelers.
In a blog post on the report, GBTA Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer Mike McCormick noted that it was important for corporate travel programs to understand business travelers’ concerns.
“Keeping travelers safe on the road is a prime responsibility for travel professionals,” he wrote. “Understanding the road warriors’ fears and anxieties about business travel, as well as communicating the available risk protocols and assistance services, can go a long way in building an effective risk management program.”
A preview of the research can be downloaded from the GBTA website [registration required].