Women in business travel
Gender diversity has been high on the corporate agenda for a number of years now. With an increasing number of women making up the fabric of the corporate world, questions are being raised as to whether corporate travel programmes are designed to treat their male and female travellers equally or whether there is a trend towards a more personalised and tailored approach to these programmes. In 2016, research demonstrated that, generally, travellers were treated equably. Only less than 22% of those surveyed believed that women were treated less favourable than men, whereas over 70% of the study’s participants believed that travel suppliers should try harder to address the specific needs of female business travellers. That was two years ago. Have things progressed (or regressed) since then? FCM Travel Solutions may have our answer, courtesy of its first Big Business Travel Survey (which was carried out in the summer) to find out once and for all what the attitudes towards business travel amongst male and female travellers are.
FCM discovered some interesting developments. For instance, they found that most business travellers do enjoy travelling. However, what makes this fact even more striking is the discovery that more women than men prefer travelling for business! It would seem that more women are comfortable with, and even relish, the opportunity to travel elsewhere even if it isn’t for pleasure. Furthermore, FCM also found that although the value of business travel is aimed at face-to-face interaction and meetings with clients and colleagues, over 50% of travellers enjoy the sheer experience of travelling to a different place as well as being exposed to a variety of cultures. Thus, the ‘travel’ aspect of ‘business travel’ is not lost on this section of travellers.
Even though female business travellers do take pleasure in travelling, there are some drawbacks. Travelling for business naturally takes people away from the comforts of their homes and families, something women (in this study, anyway) do not particularly want. These women also find business travel disruptive to their work and professional lives as well as their private lives. In light of this, FCM found that whilst women make more overnight stays than men, more men unsurprisingly stay away from home for longer periods of time. In terms of their preferred mode of transportation, air travel triumphs over all else with 71.4% of business travellers opting to fly to their respective destinations. Interestingly enough, it was found that more women travel by train than men, who prefer to drive themselves. In spite of the fondness for air travel, the same cannot be said of business travellers’ perception of airport facilities. FCM’s survey demonstrates that 43.5% of travellers never use an airport lounge, whilst under half of the female travellers never use airport showers.
When it comes to making travel arrangements, it would seem that, be they male or female, most business travellers like to reach their hotels or meetings by official taxi or pre-arranged transfer. Hotel location is very important to business travellers too, however they also make their accommodation choices based on the provision of free WiFi, 24-hour reception/security, price as well as on-site bar or restaurant. Gyms and spas are also very popular with business travellers, with men preferring the former and women the latter.
To sum up, male and female business travellers are probably more alike than ever before. Of course, there will always be exceptions but FCM’s results show us that the tastes and habits of both genders are quite similar. In other words, male and female business travellers are still treated equably. What this illustrates is that personalised travel based on gender needs has yet to catch on within the corporate travel circle. As FCM put it, it would appear that “the needs of the female business traveller are still falling under the banner of ‘nice to have’ rather than ‘essential’”.