Monday 18 November 2019

Safety issues a major concern for travelling execs

Business travel

Travelling abroad suggests exotic experiences, comfy airport lounges, plush hotels and full-frills airlines. Who wouldn't want to be a globe-trotting corporate traveller? Stock picture
Travelling abroad suggests exotic experiences, comfy airport lounges, plush hotels and full-frills airlines. Who wouldn't want to be a globe-trotting corporate traveller? Stock picture

Mark Evans

Travelling abroad suggests exotic experiences, comfy airport lounges, plush hotels and full-frills airlines. Who wouldn't want to be a globe-trotting corporate traveller?

Well, while that's the image, the reality often falls short.

Geopolitical events, fears for your safety and general travel stress are commonplace, according to the latest snapshot of the average traveller's lot.

A survey on behalf of global travel, expense and invoice management solution provider Sap Concur has found that life is tough on the road - and that's surprising at a time (for now) of global growth.

Millennials, women and LGBTQ+ business people report being worst affected by travel issues. The poll, conducted among almost 8,000 travellers from a wide range of countries, discovered that 42pc of millennials have cut down on travel to a location because of political unrest or health hazards in the past year.

It's slightly lower (36pc) among Generation X, while less than a quarter (23pc) of baby-boomers have curtailed their travel plans.

Despite leaps in equality, and with more women travelling, female travellers report high levels of harassment and sexism.

Just over three quarters have suffered some kind of harassment or mistreatment while travelling, and more than half have changed their trip plans because of safety concerns.

And 95pc of LGBTQ+ travellers said they have hidden their sexual orientation while on a business trip, with 57pc saying it was done to protect their safety. Some 85pc of them have changed their travel arrangements over safety worries, compared with 53pc of their colleagues.

Those surveyed were from 19 major business nations, including the US, UK, Germany and China. Irish travellers weren't included, but it's safe to say that the patterns should be broadly similar.

Incredibly, while companies have a duty of care to their employees, more than half of corporate travellers whose businesses have a defined travel policy just don't believe their safety is their firms' top priority. That's worrying, obviously, for a worker, but also for the employer.

With millennials in particular rating job satisfaction as high - or higher - than pay as an issue, companies could lose valued staff.

Still, solutions are at hand, according to those travelling. Just over half of those surveyed called for safety training at work. This was way ahead of other concerns like sustainable travel, which is a minority issue, only named by 39pc of those responding.

Aside from safety, the report brought up the stress of travelling, with planning trips a headache for 37pc and the post-travel catch-up on emails and filing expenses a bugbear for one in three. Filing trip paperwork is most hated by younger corporate types, with Generation Z (32pc) and a quarter of millennials citing it as an issue.

You can see why embracing booking technology is an issue for so many workers. Asked what was more likely, their flight leaving on time, or their expenses being reimbursed on time, only half were optimistic on each count. Glamorous life? Perhaps not.

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