From flight cancellations due to severe weather to unforeseen emergencies, there are bound to be bumps in the road during business travelers’ journeys.
In fact, according to “Traveler 360°,” a research report from American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) and the research firm GfK, roughly one in five corporate travelers in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Singapore and India have been forced to reschedule or postpone a business trip due to safety concerns in the past 12 months alone. This seems to be a less common occurrence in Australia and the United States, the other two countries represented in American Express GBT’s international survey, as only 10 percent of Australians and 4 percent of Americans were required to alter their plans because of a security concern within the last year.
With so few travel disruptions tainting their experience, it isn’t surprising that Americans also are the least worried about them occurring. When asked about a series of challenges they may face due to security-related aspects of travel and the uncertainties that can arise, Americans scored the lowest for each category. For instance, only 36 percent of Americans see international security as an issue. By comparison, 77 percent of both Indians and Singaporeans and 62 percent of Brits have concerns over such travel.
Furthermore, only 48 percent of Americans find not being able to adjust travel arrangements if something unexpectedly happens as a challenge, whereas 84 percent of Indian travelers, the highest among the seven countries, view it as a hurdle — which is strange since Indians also have very positive impressions of their company’s responses to disruptions. When asked about their organization’s ability to provide immediate assistance when a disruption occurs, Indians gave their companies top marks with 98 percent saying they are “very” or “extremely confident” that their employer can deliver that kind of support.
Meanwhile, only 81 percent of Americans expressed that level of confidence (perhaps because they haven’t experienced as many disruptions to see the system tested?), while 90 percent or more of the polled Brits, French, Germans, Australians and Singaporeans are convinced their companies can help them when they are facing some kind of trouble.
But do travelers know how to get help when needed? It seems companies still have some ways to go in educating their employees about the number(s) to call when seeking emergency assistance. Over eight in 10 business travelers do know who to contact, but since a crisis can happen to anybody at any time, that knowledge should be universally known and at travelers’ fingertips — otherwise it can cause problems at a time when things are chaotic enough.
It also seems companies can do a better job of conveying to travelers that their safety is a top priority. While most survey participants say their employer has their safety in mind when they travel, there is room to grow this perception, with only 59 percent of Singaporeans, 70 percent of Brits and 73 percent of Australians and Germans agreeing with that statement.
One way they can instill that type of message? By investing in technology and communications systems that support travelers in times of emergencies, an effort 90 percent or more of each group says their firms should make.
Apart from U.S. business travelers, most believe their employer should know where they are and how to reach them at all times, yet they are simultaneously sensitive to monitoring technology. When asked about traveler location technology, 77 percent of French travelers and 84 percent of Singaporeans, with all other groups falling somewhere in between, say they are satisfied with their employer’s ability to locate them via a cell phone and believe no other method for locating them is necessary, suggesting they want the reassurance their company can be in touch but do not want to feel as though their every action is being examined under a microscope.
This is where travel managers can have an impact, clearing up travelers’ misconceptions and demonstrating to employees how such monitoring technology works and that it’s only used when safety and security issues develop.
While travelers may fear that their company is monitoring their every move from the moment they leave their front door until they return home, this is simply not the case — at least not with the kind of technology that American Express GBT uses to pinpoint its travelers’ locations during times of crises.
Our location detection system, Expert Care™, does not “track” travelers in the strictest sense of the word. It allows users to request a traveler’s exact coordinates via the Amex GBT Mobile app. Because it is only with the traveler’s explicit consent that the location is returned to the platform and visualized on the map, travelers need not worry the slightest bit that their company is spying on them. And because permissions are only good for a single instance — not for the entire duration of the trip — they also can rest assured that the organization simply is checking in on them during that moment. And what traveler wouldn’t want that kind of additional support during an extreme circumstance?
Interested in reading more? To see the full findings of the “Traveler 360°” report — which also touches on policy compliance, traveler satisfaction and bleisure travel — fill out the form below and then click the “Submit” button. You then will be redirected to a “Download” link.
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