What female business travelers need to know - Colombia Mice

What female business travelers need to know

Colombia-MICE is part of the Pelecanus Travel Group. We are located in Bogota, Colombia. We are specialized in corporate travel and all services around Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions.

The position of women in the workplace has changed significantly in recent decades. That’s why today in hotels and airports you often see women working on their laptops or using their cell phones in meetings.

Women are no longer just housewives and mothers, they are bosses, managers, and representatives of the most important brands in the market and that is why their business trips are one of the most important segments in business tourism today. And we know that their needs and challenges are often different from those of their male counterparts.

Women in business travel

Business travel spending will reach about $1.7 trillion by 2022, meaning more companies are sending their employees abroad, according to an article by Decysy.

For this reason, the number of women traveling in business is increasing rapidly. In areas such as marketing, tourism and human resources, a large proportion of the representatives are naturally women. For example, according to a report by PwC, 3 out of 4 travel managers are women. 90% of them like to travel for work and do so on average between 6 to 10 times a year.

In the profile of the businesswoman, we find peculiarities such as:

  • Women prefer to organize their trips themselves, even if their company is involved. Women want to be well informed.
  • Women are more likely to join hotel loyalty programs as it gives them security and benefits.
  • A study by Booking Business shows that 76% of women take the opportunity to enjoy their free time while on a business trip.
  • In addition, 25% like to combine their business trip with a weekend to explore the destination and, if possible, share it with family or friends; they describe themselves as leisure travelers. The activities in which they invest most of their time include shopping, design and discovering fashionable places, or more cultural aspects such as sightseeing, visiting museums, going to the theater, visiting art galleries, or active life experiences such as discovering the country and its people.
  • A study by Solitair Holidays shows that 72% of women like to travel alone because it allows them to better focus on the purpose of their trip.

However, gender inequality is still relevant in this sector because, as the organization ClosinGap notes, for every business trip a woman makes, there are three trips by a man. If men do about 1.2 million business trips a year, what would happen if women did the same? It is estimated that 6 million additional business trips would take place, giving MICE tourism a major economic boost.

Aspects of business traveler women

Women are aware that this type of trip must be planned with a lot of commitment, mainly because  several aspects are fundamental for them and that are not always given the necessary importance.

Safety first

Women travelers often face all sorts of challenges, not only related to their work but which can also put their safety at risk.

Most women feel more insecure when traveling, research has shown. For example, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) conducted a study of female business travelers’ feelings of safety, which found that 67% of women share this concern and that number is increasing over the years.

On the other hand, this has a major impact on how women behave on a business trip and how they plan their trips. Travel insurance company Travel Guard (AIG Travel) provided the following figures in the same study to support this point:

  • 86% of women prefer to book flights on the day
  • For 67%, the safety of the location of their accommodation is of the utmost importance
  • 56% of businesswomen prefer accommodation that has been highly recommended to them
  • 58% confirm that they communicate frequently with their office and family members, giving them their exact itinerary
  • 80% have an emergency contact
  • 8 out of 10 women in the study say security concerns have directly impacted their productivity on business trips.

That’s why women don’t leave anything to chance when organizing their trips, preferring not to draw too much attention to themselves and, if it can’t be avoided, they make sure that they have all the necessary means so as not to take unnecessary risks.

Every trip is well planned

Women, who always have the purpose and destination of a business trip in mind, are much more specific when organizing their itinerary so that no detail is overlooked.

Why is that? Coupled with the safety aspect mentioned above, women also want peace of mind that nothing can go wrong on their journey and that they will reach their destination. In addition, fewer and fewer companies book their employees’ travel themselves, so that when booking travel independently, it is ensured that flight schedules, choice of accommodation, company activities, leisure activities – simply everything is taken into account for a perfect trip.

It’s worth noting that 6 in 10 women book their trips themselves, but make sure they follow company policies, according to a ConnectAmericas article.

The ideal accommodation

When it comes to accommodation, there are several important factors. First of all, when choosing the ideal hotel, the duration of the trip and the location are fundamental, since on this depends the type of rooms and services you need.

Many hotels are now catering to female travelers by offering more female-friendly and female-centric services, recognizing the significant portion of this group in the tourism industry.

Other services that are particularly important for women include:

  • You are in a safe and easily accessible area
  • To have facilities such as meeting rooms
  • Wi-Fi service
  • safe deposit box
  • Personal hygiene items
  • parking facilities
  • Restricted access for guests only
  • room service
  • restaurant and/or bar
  • Gym, spa, hairdresser service

Convenient and safe mobility

Getting from one destination to another, be it from the airport to the hotel or from one part of the city to another, is one of the first things women pay attention to when traveling.

There are various options to consider. Renting a transport before arriving at the destination is always an option for the transfer as it saves time and is safer, especially in lesser-known destinations. There are also other types of services such as taxis, shuttles (if the hotel offers this service) and even limousines, which can be cheaper than taxis in many cities around the world. Of course, there is also the option of renting a car, although this is not always the best option for this type of trip. It can be quite expensive in some cases and the distances are not large enough to consider this possibility.

Strategic baggage

Depending on the destination, there are different aspects of luggage to consider, as not the same thing is required for every trip.

  1. If you want to transport delicate items, you opt for a sturdy suitcase, while if your luggage consists only of clothes, you prefer a suitcase that doesn’t weigh too much, isn’t too big and is easy to carry/roll.
  2. As for the luggage itself, women are much more rigorous in their luggage choices and put together more strategic combinations that are suitable for any weather, elegant occasions, or after-work trips.
  3. It is also important that you take a backpack, handbag or briefcase with you in addition to your suitcase. It is also imperative to have essential items on hand, such as: Your appointment calendar, your phone, your contacts, your credit cards, your hotel address, information about the means of transport you will be using, your passport and all the necessary information to avoid unforeseen events. It is also advisable to carry some cash in the currency of both the departure and destination cities.
  4. Finally, electronic devices such as a mobile phone, laptop or tablet are a must on this type of trip. They are a great ally of women who use them on this type of travel to facilitate access to information, keep in touch with the company, attend meetings and generally keep in touch.

Make the most of your free time

Business travel can mean long waits at airports and a lot of uncontrollable moments of stress. It is therefore of paramount importance for the traveling woman to find free moments in the daily routine to make the most of her free time and give herself a well-deserved break.

Being physically active, visiting the city, going out for a drink or just reading a book, listening to music or watching a film are very pleasant moments in which they can have fun without neglecting their duties.

Impact on personal life

While business travel can bring many benefits, certain personal life implications may not be optimal.

Captio ‘s second report on the personal impact of business travel found that 89.3 percent of respondents said business travel affects their personal lives.

This is because it is more difficult for frequent travelers to lead a healthy and balanced life due to various impairments, according to this study, such as health (32.3%), lack of free time (28.1%), tiredness (26.3%) and difficulties in reconciling family life (16.3%). However, 15.4% do not feel stressed at all if they have to take part in a business trip, since not all cases are the same, of course.

Women have a great responsibility.

According to the GBTA and AIG Travel survey, 83% of women say their companies care about their travel safety, but 63% also say they could do better.

Concerning to security, companies should be involved in the preparation of the trip, e.g. by preparing reports on the destination, including protocols, dress code, legislation, etc. This may also include possible travel restrictions. This may include possible restrictions on women for religious, cultural and other reasons to avoid public order problems and vulnerability to women workers.

Among other relevant percentages, half of the respondents in the study state that their company provides safety notices for their trips that they consider useful  to be able to manage their trip without problems. On the other hand, 68% of respondents believe their organization should have specific measures in place to manage risk because no matter how well you prepare in advance, there will always be an unforeseen event that requires your organization’s support.

Maiden Voyage’s chief executive, Carolyn Pearson, believes that there are “certain key areas where women differ from men that need to be considered when traveling on business”, particularly when it comes to safety. Therefore, one of the most important legal due diligence tools for female travelers is a 24-hour helpline, either through traditional channels or through dedicated applications as offered by specialized agencies. This includes full information about the destination, safety and emergency contacts, location, etc. About 61% say their company provides a hotline.

The role that companies play in business travel is the most important, not only because of the due diligence required but also because it helps to narrow the gender gap that is still quite evident in most companies.

Initiatives by companies and organizations

More and more companies are becoming aware of their role in the business travel of their female employees and their main goal is to help build a gender-neutral business travel sector.

Here are some of the companies and organizations that have presented their strategies in this regard:

  • Women Leading Tourism: This is an organization founded by female travelers who created a platform ( MeetIN ) to promote women’s participation in the tourism sector. Her goal is to “promote inclusive policies that increase the presence of women on boards and decision-making bodies,” according to Natalia Ros, founding partner of Forum Business Travel and editor of MeetIN. In addition, events, training courses and alliances are held to raise awareness of the special needs of female travelers. Another interesting initiative by this group is the creation of the WLT Friendship Seal, designed to recognize companies with best practices in the field of women’s leadership. These are initiatives by women for women, supported by men who believe in the need for change.
  • Red SOFÍA: This program aims to raise awareness among all those working in Costa Rica’s tourism industry to ensure equality in this sector, eliminate violence against women in the country and visitors, and create a safe environment for tourists.
  • ClosinGap: This organization consists of an alliance with eight Spanish-based companies (Merck, Mapfre, Vodafone, Repsol, Mahou San Miguel, Meliá Hotels, L’Oréal and BMW Group) whose objective is to analyze the gender gap and then to take action against it. In addition, they work with Women Leading Tourism to work specifically for business tourism.
  • Focus on Women: This is a travel agency that specializes solely in helping women plan and manage travel. The main motivation of this company is to give traveling women the security they need to achieve their goals.
  • SheDrives: This is a transportation agency in New York City that offers safe taxi rides for female business travelers. They make sure their customers can move around with peace of mind and have all the information they need to be able to rely on this service 24 hours a day.
  • Blablacar and Carpooling are other women-only ride and transfer services.
  • Hotel Artemis: The first hotel in Europe dedicated exclusively to women.
  • Marriott International: The Marriott group has strived over the past few years to be a benchmark for women’s inclusion. One of her programs is the Let’s Talk women’s forums, launched in 2020 to create a space for open conversation that allows women leaders to provoke, inspire, enlighten and empower themselves and others in the region. In addition, as part of the Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction aims to empower women through developing skills and creating opportunities in the tourism sector, investing up to $500 million in more than 3,500 women-owned businesses around the world.
  • Hotels: Some hotels like The Dukes, Grange City Hotel, Hamilton Crowne Plaza or Bella Sky Comwell have floors for women only.
  • Korean Air and other airlines, mainly Asian ones, have set up VIP lounges for female travelers only, which have different areas for working and resting. In addition, most aircraft are equipped with ladies-only toilets.