It’s pretty official.
A comprehensive White Paper produced by Cornell University School of Hotel Management, reported that “women have become the fastest growing segment of business travelers in the United States.”
In data from 2010, women accounted for nearly half of all business travelers in the United States, up a huge 43% from 2003.
But what they want from their travels, especially their hotel stays, is very different from what men want.
And hotel managers and the hospitality industry are scrambling to provide the kind of hotel experience that turns women business travelers into loyal clients.
One myth that the report destroyed was that women feel guilty being on the road, away from their families.
Not so, it seems.
Researchers found that women travelers seldom took their families on business trips, and felt “little stress or guilt” about traveling and being away from home.
About 80% of women road warriors said that travel was essential to their careers and felt it caused little or no disruption of their family lives.
But, as Hotelmarketing.com pointed out, hotels have to approach women business travelers more “holistically” accepting that “whole emotional experiences” during their hotel stays matter much more than, say, adding a particular service or that amenity.
• Women stay in hotels longer than men. Their multi-night stays are taken up with meetings, conferences and conventions, while men tend to check in for single-night stays for sales or consulting purposes
• Significantly, women include important personal time as part of their business trip, with 44 percent incorporating leisure
experiences into their travel. More than 20 percent of women business travelers add vacation days to extend their stay
• Women travelers also tend to book rooms further in advance, make fewer itinerary changes and more frequently travel economy class
The overall “take away” from the Cornell report seems to be that women value a positive emotional response to a hotel stay, rather than an appreciation of specific amenities or services.
Judi Brownell, Cornell dean and author of the report, sums up the emotional need a hotel must provide for the woman business traveler:
• Women are concerned that the hotel take care for their safety, Unlike their male counterparts, women are interested in where fire exits are, lighted and covered parking areas, deadbolts on doors. They want to feel the hotel cares
• Importantly, they want a good night’s sleep, and want it more than men do. They are known to bring their own pillows, and appreciate Westin’s Heavenly Bed experience
• Women on the road want and need to feel empowered.
Travel matters to them as a way of growing and they want to affirm their independence. Fresh flowers and flavored coffees, matter, but so do large windows and stylish furnishings.
Finally, women travelers want their hotels to value them.
The hotel industry has to do a better job, the reports says, in respecting the work women business travelers do, and valuing them.
The industry fails to do so at its peril.