By Keith Loria
Carlson Wagonlit Travel recently commissioned a Safety & Security study designed to measure business travelers’ overall views on hotel safety. The results provide a glimpse of the safety concerns of business travelers delving into why they feel unsafe at hotels as well as what precautions they take to stay safe.
The study was conducted through Artemis Strategy Group between Jan. 29 and Feb. 8, and data was collected from more than 2,000 business travelers from the Americas (Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico and the United States), Europe (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) and APAC (Australia, China, India, Japan Singapore and South Korea).
Business travelers that participated in the study all had taken at least four business trips within the past 12 months. Scott Brennan, chief growth officer & founder of RoomIt by CWT, noted security is a top concern for both travelers.
“Although regions vary in their perceptions of risk around the globe, more than half of travel managers believe that traveler risk is on the rise, presenting concerns around international relations, geopolitical tensions, and foreign policies,” he told Hotel Interactive®. “Physical location, an intruder entering their room, other guests’ behavior or rowdiness, and fires are all top safety concerns among travelers today.”
Security has always been important, but concerns continue to grow. In 2017, more than half of global business trips were altered due to security threats. Brennan noted that now, more than ever, organizations are responsible for ensuring the safety and security of their travelers.
One of the results talked about travelers feeling it was important to be on a top floor to be safe as many people assume staying on a ground level or low level hotel floor is an unsafe choice. In fact, more than a quarter of those surveyed responded they opt for a higher floor when possible, while 21% choose a lower floor and 32% avoid the ground floor at all costs.
“Safety experts agree that a low floor is not ideal, but actually a mid-level floor is deemed the safest because it’s less likely you’ll have intruders while remaining low enough to get out of the building during a fire,” Brennan said.
Interestingly, safety and security became a prevalent topic following recent terrorist attacks, but terrorism ranked lower in terms of concerns than those noted.
According to the results, travelers in the United States are the most concerned about their personal safety when traveling. In fact, 41% Americans are very concerned about their safety compared to 27% of travelers in Asia Pacific and 20% of travelers in Europe.
Additionally, 35% of U.S. business travelers expressed concerns about safety at hotels, compared to 25% of Canadian travelers and 23% of Mexico travelers.
“Despite having the most concerns, Americans are still the most likely to stay at a less secure hotel if it means they will earn hotel loyalty points,” Brennan said.
The research also showed that 53% of business travelers from the U.S. say the physical location of their hotel alone has made them feel unsafe while traveling for business.
Globally, 41% of travelers noted they worry about hotel staff inadvertently giving out their room key or information to a stranger, a concern shared by 37% of U.S. business travelers. Respondents from the U.S. also identified disruptions or actions of other guests (46%) as cause for concern.
To adequately meet the needs of business travelers, hotels need to have high security alertness, competence, strong policies and efficient protocols in place to address a multitude of issues important to business travel programs, according to the survey.
“One way hotels have responded to this need is through digital locks, with some already implemented at hotels and included in smart room conceptual developments,” Brennan said. “For example, at certain hotels, guests can download a QR code to their mobile phone to unlock their room door, arguably more secure than traditional keys and less prone to getting lost due to the value of a cell phone.”
While the survey had some expected results, those at CWT were a little bit surprised that up to 30% of global travelers, and nearly half of U.S. travelers (47%), prioritized hotel loyalty and rewards incentives over safety concerns.
“For us, that simply reinforces the need to allow travelers to collect points for booking within policy so they’re able to get the best of both worlds, while also giving travel managers a better sense of security,” Brennan said. “The challenge for travel managers is to ensure people don’t go off-program in search of points. The safety of travelers should be the top priority in any travel program.”
Travelers have many safety and security concerns beyond hotels. In fact, they are as concerned about their data security as their personal security, based on results of the survey.
“And, they feel most vulnerable when on a train, subway or simply walking around,” Brennan said. “According to their rankings, business travelers feel the least vulnerable at hotels compared to any other public spaces like airports, train stations and restaurants.”