Female business travellers: A demographic you can’t risk ignoring
About a year ago, the corporate world, government and the movie industry (especially in the United States) were caught off guard and stunned by revelation after revelation of sexual misconduct by well-known figures. The world today is more aware now about improper behaviour by men, particularly by those in positions of authority or power, and many courageous women are to thank for vocalising their experiences through the #metoo movement.
Now, we’re not getting political in today’s AP Voice, but it is timely to think about the needs of the female business travellers (some of which relate to safety) and how independent hotels can meet the needs of this rising demographic.
In the last decade, Scandinavian countries have led the way in promoting the rise of women to the boardroom. In the UK, the number of women on boards of FTSE 100 companies has increased from 11% to 28% and data shows that many of the UK’s most successful companies usually have a large percentage of females in senior management roles.
Research by Forbes found that the majority (80%) of all decisions around travel, including booking flights, restaurant reservations and hotel choices are made by women.
Back in 2014, Skift reported that female business travellers make up a large share of the US business travel market, with 47% of women who travel travelling for business. They control 60% of U.S. wealth and influence 85% purchasing decisions. Women are high-tech, connected, and social and represent 58% of online sales.
What are female business travellers looking for?
With this background and in the post-metoo era, independent hotels can differentiate themselves from their chain competitors by providing services that address the needs and wants of women business travellers.
Wanup surveyed 6,000 frequent business travellers throughout Europe between the ages of 25 and 55, and about 38% of these were women. All had travelled for business at least six times and stayed in a hotel for business three or more times over the last year.
Women prefer independent or boutique hotels: While more than 50% of men prefer to stay in chain hotels, women are less likely to do so when travelling for business. 54% of women prefer independent hotels, boutique properties or apartments when travelling.
Women don’t stick to loyalty programmes: 35% of women surveyed also said they wanted a better selection of hotels from their loyalty club. On top of that, 41% of women who aren’t in a hotel loyalty club say that their reason for not using one is that they want more variety.
Women love technology: Women are more likely to use apps to plan their business travel. 68% of women are likely to share their experiences on social media while traveling for business.
But that’s not all. Maiden Voyage’s Women in Business Travel Survey (conducted in 2016 before #metoo) revealed that 70% of respondents believe that travel suppliers should try harder to address the needs of female business travellers.
Women are in particular looking for safety and customised service.
Safety: Almost one in three women have experienced sexual harassment while travelling for business. Sexual harassment accounts for over half (51%) of all incidents encountered by female business travellers. 64% of female business travellers say there are destinations they would not travel to that they would probably travel to as a man, such as the Middle East (UAE, Saudi Arabia), Africa (Nigeria), South America (Brazil) and even Japan. It’s not about treating women travellers different, but it is about understanding that they have different needs. It would behoove hotels to have members of staff trained on the concerns of women business travellers. Other measures that hotels can take include: providing an escort to hotel rooms, especially in the evenings; providing rooms close to lifts; the option for a discreet check-in, with unnumbered room keys; and peep holes on hotel doors.
Customised Service: A large percentage of women interviewed by Maiden Voyage reported that they appreciated a great customised service. 43% of women said they were “very likely” to use hotel providers that pay special attention to their needs. For example, research conducted by National Sleep Foundation and Hilton Hotels found that women are 20% more likely to be concerned with their quality of sleep than male colleagues. They expect decent pillows, a quiet and relaxing room and a comfortable mattress. Studies also show that women will check a hotel’s dining options before booking and are often looking for the wide menu (restaurant and room service), with clean eating options. Some also state that they prefer a discreet dining area for lone travellers.
Are you looking for more advice on how to ensure that women business travellers are catered for at your hotel? Amistad Partners’ sales team is happy to speak with you about this so please do get in touch.