New research highlights opportunities for significant improvement
Hotels need to provide better inroom facilities. Airlines should provide more assistance with luggage. Both airlines and train operators should offer more flexible seating arrangements and car rental providers should review safety at vehicle collection and drop-off points.
These are just some of the findings from a new report looking at female business travellers’ needs, the degree to which these needs are met and whether gender should play any part in corporate travel management.
The ‘Women in Business Travel Report’, was commissioned by Maiden-Voyage, the world’s specialist resource for female business travellers, from Travel Intelligence Network, specialists in creating unique content for the travel and hospitality sectors.
Unique research carried out for the report also revealed that:
- 68% of female business travellers prefer to stay in hotel chains
- 52% of female business travellers do not have airport lounge access, mainly due to cost.
- 83.2% of female business travellers travel on business by rail, compared to private car (67%), air (57.8%) or car share (34.1%)
The research, amongst female company managers, directors, CEOs and owners, was supported by leading travel brands; Avis Budget, CTI, International SOS, Priority Pass and Virgin Trains.
Those surveyed came from a wide variety of industry sectors including; professional services, healthcare, technology, retail, education and government. Just under half of the 200+ respondents spend four nights or more per month away from their UK homes on business.
Today, according to Skift (Skift.com), 47% of women who travel, travel on business and 80% of travel spend is managed by women, making them the fastest growing segment of business travellers. Meanwhile, Duty of Care legislation has demanded that employers take a more personal approach to business travel, and travel suppliers have reacted similarly.
“We live in a risk-filled world, where corporates must remain ever-mindful of their duty of care to travelling employees” says Carolyn Pearson, Founder and CEO of Maiden-Voyage. “More women are in senior corporate positions, and more are travelling on business too, often alone.”
“Travel management has changed too. Personalising the traveller experience is essential to maintain the policy compliance that drives maximum value from corporates’ travel spend, so travel managers are engaging with a more diverse range of stakeholders than ever before in a bid to create travel programmes that meet the personal needs of every business traveller.”
“There are significant business opportunities available to smart brands who cater to the needs of this female business traveller market segment. To help savvy travel brands capitalise on the opportunity this demographic represents, they must focus on the needs of female business travellers in the key areas of security, assistance/guides/information, dedicated services and social amenities.”
The ‘Women in Business Travel Report’, shows that it is far from unanimous amongst female business travellers that they should be treated any differently from their male counterparts – precisely the reverse. The issue, however, is whether they are treated appropriately. And although travel providers are succeeding on many levels, there is a gap between the needs of the female business traveller and delivery to meet those needs.
“The question facing travel suppliers is, whether they would recoup the required investment if they were to develop products and services for female business travellers as some have already done” says Carolyn Pearson.
“Our research suggests that, on the levels of usage, compliance and brand loyalty, they would. The real issue here is that travel providers should not need to make specific arrangements for female business travellers.”
Copies of the Women in Business Travel Report can be requested, free of charge, from firstname.lastname@example.org
We ask local travel agent, Lesley Dean for her views:
As an independent Travel Agent, I find women are quite savvy in travel these days, whether travelling for leisure or business. They know what they want and, when it comes to leisure travel, they are often the decision makers for family holidays. They know where they want to go and the best flights to suit the family, especially if they have younger children.
As regards safety – we do a lot of business travel, in particular for flights, and a lot of single business travellers are arriving late at night. It can be stressful arriving somewhere you don’t know late at night and having to pick up a car or wait for a taxi in an isolated area, so I can understand their concerns and it would be good to have some kind of VIP service like they do at UK airports where the car is driven to the entrance for you.
It’s easy to understand why many female travellers prefer to book chain hotels to stay in. This is because they feel happier and more confident with familiarity, such as CCTV, 24- hour reception etc. For our female travellers, we check that the hotel is 24-hours and serviced for single lady travellers no matter what time they arrive.
I can also understand why 83.2% of female business travellers travel on business by rail compared to private car or car share. It’s time on their own, either to relax or to catch up on emails and many even turn their phone off and not take calls just so they can dedicate the journey time to work.
We also find that a number of our female travellers tend to book economy flights; we find this is either because they are independent business owners or, more usually, that they are just more cost conscious when putting through expenses than the male business traveller. For this reason, we offer them an independent VIP airport lounge where they can work, relax or freshen up (if they are going straight to a meeting), both in the UK and in their destination.
I find that many women travellers are very organized when it comes to travel. They plan their outfits and know what they are taking with them, usually just as hand luggage, as they know they have to carry it and also don’t want to hang around luggage conveyor belts waiting for hold luggage to arrive, although this usually depends on how long they are travelling. I recently returned from a business trip where two of the girls had travelled out for five days with just their hand luggage trolley cases!
Because every client is different, and looking for something specific, we match what our client is looking for to the right hotel to ensure that it has everything they need for their stay and is suited to their agenda and itinerary.
Although bookings can obviously be made independently, we are finding that more travellers are coming back to Travel Agents. This is often because we can obtain better fares, reserved with just a deposit instead of the full amount, but also because people nowadays are so busy with work and home life that they are time poor and know that, because I am available seven days a week, they can call me on a Saturday night and it will be all sorted by the Monday morning, so they get to spend quality time doing what they want to do.
Lesley Dean – Your Holiday Expert