Study: Some business travellers choose hotel rewards over safety

What makes a good hotel? According to business travelers around the world, it's not just good rates and a comfortable bed. It's also a safe location and a secure facility.

So finds global travel management company Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), which today published the results of a new study on hotel safety. Based on a survey of more than 2,000 business travelers, it found that 27 percent of global business travelers feel vulnerable when staying in a hotel, and that Americans, in particular, are safety-conscious, with more than a third of American business travelers (35 percent) expressing concern about hotel safety.

There is no single cause for travelers' concerns, according to CWT. For instance, nearly half (44 percent) of U.S. travelers say they worry that an intruder will break into their hotel room, 37 percent that hotel staff will inadvertently give their room key or information to a stranger, and 46 percent that disruptions or actions of other guests will threaten their safety. And then, of course, there's hotels' location, which worries more than half (53 percent) of U.S. business travelers.

And yet, travelers' concerns don't eclipse their hunger for status: Thirty percent of business travelers globally and nearly half (47 percent) of business travelers in the United States say they are willing to sacrifice safety for hotel loyalty and rewards incentives.

"Clearly, travelers are very focused on their hotel loyalty points -- they will go to great lengths to get those benefits," said David Falter, president of RoomIt by CWT, CWT's hotel booking engine. "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."

Although they aren't always smart about safety, travelers aren't completely reckless about it, either, according to CWT, which found that many business travelers take precautions to stay safe at hotels. For example, half of U.S. business travelers (49 percent) say they take their room key out of the key folder so people can't match the key to their room. Another 77 percent say they keep their room door locked at all times, while 38 percent say they put the "do not disturb" sign on the door when they leave the room. Finally, 29 percent say that they ask for a room on a higher floor when possible, 21 percent that they ask for a room on a lower floor, and 32 percent that they avoid staying on the ground floor.

"Security experts typically advise staying between the third and sixth floors, where it becomes difficult for an intruder to break in, but you're still within reach of most fire departments' ladders," said Falter, who also recommended traveling with items such as door wedges, portable door locks, and travel door alarms. "While most hotel rooms lock automatically, a number of solutions available on the market can provide an added layer of security."