As the number of women in roofing is rising, so is the number of women traveling for business – you included! We, as female business travelers, make up 50% (figure 1) of all business travel. One study (figure 2 – 2018 online survey conducted by AIG Travel Inc. and Global Business Travel Association (GBTA)) shows that 80% of these traveling women have experienced a safety related event in the past year that has impacted their work productivity. If we have to spend energy in the “fight or flight” mode, we are challenged to bring 100% focus to the business objective at hand.

Before we head off to Dallas to celebrate our 3rd annual NWIR Day and meet up with colleagues, customers, and business partners at the IRE, let’s look at our travel practice and identify ways to enhance our personal safety. Here are some tips to help us Initiate Responsible Excursions before heading to the International Roofing Expo.

Initiate: Planning your Trip

  • Plan your trip in advance so you can stay at the event hotel, limiting your need to leave the hotel and walk alone, especially at night.
  • Keep copies of your important documents (license, credit cards, insurance) in your luggage and a copy on your laptop. I’ve even started traveling with a backup license.
  • Make sure your company and a family member or friend has a copy of your itinerary. For me, this means that I text my husband a screen shot of my boarding pass before I take off. I check in when I land, and every night when I make it back to my room.
  • Another option could be to track your travel details in your work calendar. Just make sure others have read-access and know that you are traveling.

Responsible: Trip Smarts

  • Always keep your phone charged. You may also want to invest in a small, portable battery pack to carry with you.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings. Don’t listen to music with earbuds in while walking around.
  • Always make sure to let a colleague know where you are going, who you are meeting, and when you intend to return. Make a practice of checking in with one another.
  • Host business meetings in common areas such as the lobby, business center, or hotel restaurant, rather than in a hotel room.
  • Notify your colleagues if a client/business partner makes you uncomfortable. Ask for their help in keeping space between you both, and keeping the conversation between the professional lines.
  • Have a wingman (male or female). If a business meeting starts feeling more like a date, have your wingman make an appearance and reset (or end) the meeting.
  • Never take a drink you haven’t seen poured. Never leave a drink, whether alcoholic or nonalcoholic, unattended – no need to be an easy target.
  • Don’t drink too much. It clouds your judgment, weakens your defenses, and is unprofessional.
  • Be mindful of getting on the elevator, especially at the end of the night after everyone’s been drinking. If you’re unsure, step off the elevator and take another one.
  • Follow your intuition: if you feel a bad vibe, listen to your gut instinct and remove yourself from the situation.

Transportation Smarts

Park at a well-lit location at airport or train station, ideally as close to the building entrance as possible. I often return after dark and want to be sure I can quickly return to my car. Back into the parking space so you can drive away easily. Don’t leave parking ticket in the car.

When you return to your car, have your keys ready so that you can get in quickly. Before entering, scan the back seat to check no-one has climbed in. Once you are in the car, lock the doors immediately and drive off quickly…you can respond to those emails later.

Use a laminated business card as a luggage tag so your home address isn’t exposed.

Always take a Lyft or Uber so your location is tracked.

If renting a car, photograph the back of the car and send it to your family member or friend.

If driving, use valet parking rather than walking to your hotel, restaurant or conference from a distant lot or a parking garage.

Don’t walk alone at night.

Before leaving the hotel, ask the concierge if there are areas to avoid or preferred meeting destinations.

Hotel Smarts

  • Request a room with an interior entrance and above the ground floor.
  • Make sure your room number is written, and not spoken by hotel staff. Keep your room number private. Pay for food and drink with a credit card; don’t charge it to your room.
  • Once you get to your room, check doors, windows, closets and the shower. Make sure all locks work, and use them — including the deadbolt and security chain. You can also have the concierge’s help you with your bags and have them wait while you check out the room security.
  • Use a rubber doorstop to wedge under the inside of your hotel door while you’re in your room. It’s almost impossible to push open a door while that’s in place.
  • If housekeeping or room service shows up unannounced, call the front desk to verify before opening the door.
  • Do not hang up signs asking for the room to be cleaned, as these announce that there is no one in the room. Instead, contact housekeeping or reception and submit your request.
  • When leaving your room, make sure the door closes behind you completely.
  • Look up the location of the nearest stairwell, in case of an emergency.
  • When you return to your hotel room always check the closets, bathroom, balcony, and underneath the bed to make sure that the room is empty.
  • Keep a flashlight by the bed, in case the power goes out.

What other practices have you adopted to keep yourself safe while traveling? We hope you all have safe travels to IRE, and we can’t wait to see you in February!