The Rise of Female Business Travelers

by Marisa Garcia + Skift Team - Jun 2014

Skift Research Take

Female business travelers make up a large share of the Business Travel Market, controlling 60% of U.S. wealth and influencing 85% purchasing decisions. They are high-tech, connected, and social and represent 58% of online sales. To get maintain their competitive edge, travel brands must start focusing their campaigns to better target women.

Report Overview

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Companies from across the travel cycle — corporate travel agents, airlines, car rental companies, hotels, meetings/conventions — are changing to meet the needs of female business travelers. We’ll look at these changes and analyze the scope of this trend, considering the features of product and design which matter most to women including critical matters of security, and other travel experience features. We will also review how to develop advertising and marketing strategies which will appeal to women, and focus on how women use technology for travel planning and bookings, and how actively women rely on social media, from sharing travel intelligence to rating hotels.

  • Women represent just over half the world’s population and 60% of the wealth in the U.S.
  • Women influence 85% of all purchasing decisions, and account for 58% of online sales.
  • 47% percent of women who travel, travel for business.

If we believe the advertising of most sectors in the travel industry from hotels to transport, then business travel is the exclusive domain of suit and tie wearing, greying white men — and Asian and Middle Eastern men, too, from time to time — who appear to be pondering the weighty matters of life.

When women appear in these advertisements it is often as the companion of the man in the commercial, or as the wife this businessman comes home to, usually with a golden-haired daughter running to greet him. On occasion, this presentation varies to include a non-caucasian couple and the child running to greet the father is sometimes a boy.

These same commercials run on endless-loop at hotels on their branded channel, often already playing when the business traveler arrives in the room, disregarding the reality that increasing numbers of the business travelers checking into those rooms are women who do not see themselves or their lives in the “idealized” world of those commercials.

This stereotype is perpetuated in traditional media and reflected in the products and services offered and in the design of the facilities. Breaking away from this stereotype, and dealing with the traveler profile in an objective manner that acknowledges the rise of women as business travelers, will benefit travel brands.

There are significant business opportunities available to smart brands who cater to the needs of this female business traveler market segment. To help savvy travel brands capitalize on the opportunity this demographic represents, we will focus on the needs of female business travelers, present some examples of product features which will be of added-value to the female business traveler, and suggest advertising and technology strategies for brands which want to increase their appeal to women who travel.