The success of the business-events industry relies on a healthy appetite for travel. And as conference and convention attendees compare flights, hotels, and destinations, they aren’t just thinking about price tags and potential schedule issues. A new survey from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) reveals that many of them are focusing on the increased fears of terror attacks. In a survey of nearly 800 U.S. business travelers, 52 percent indicated that they feel safer when traveling domestically. Terrorism also ranked above local disease outbreaks, corporate budget cuts, and the state of the global economy in its impact on business travel.
“We often talk about the resiliency of the business travel industry in the face of terror threats, economic uncertainty, political unrest, and other factors,” Michael W. McCormick, GBTA’s executive director and COO, said in a statement. “Keeping travelers safe on the road is a prime responsibility for travel professionals. 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.”
While GBTA’s survey revealed that some U.S. professionals think that emerging markets are more dangerous, 57 percent of respondents indicated that any destination can be high-risk. Unfortunately, the March 22 attack on London’s Westminster Bridge and Parliament Square that killed four and injured at least 29 served as a reminder that those respondents recognize the reality of today’s travel landscape: Terrorism knows no borders. In fact, London was ranked as the third-safest destination in the survey. The initial findings showed that “business travelers generally feel developed cities in North America and Wester Europe are safe for business travel”, but it’s clear that safety is being tested everywhere.
Addressing Concerns in Event Communications
From Orlando to Istanbul, recent attacks have dominated headlines, and meeting and event professionals must adjust to the new norms. “We have to learn how to maintain business in a world where there will be uncertainty,” Martin Sirk, CEO of the International Congress and Convention Association, said at the 2016 DMAI Annual Convention. “Acknowledge the fear is real, but you must also point to factual information. You have to get the balance right when communicating with your attendees.”
And while you may not be able to better protect attendees while they’re in transit to and from your host destination, you can adopt new security measures to mitigate potential on-site risks. Many trade-show organizers are already taking additional precautions. Check out this article to see some of the safeguards your peers are using.