Marketing Travel to Women: Eight New Trends You Need to Know

July 16, 2013 § 10 Comments

iStock_000012573383XSmallWomen are traveling more than they have ever before.  Travel experts think that women represent the most important and fastest growing segment of the travel market, in terms of both leisure and business travel.

According to the Travel Industry Association, there is an estimated 32 million single American women who have traveled at least once in the past year, and some three in ten travel five or more times a year.  The average adventure traveler is not a male but a 47-year-old female.  Fueling this travel desire is the growth in single women.  One-third of all women are now single “indies” – a new term for those over 27, not married, not living with a partner and without children.

I had the opportunity to speak with travel veteran Phyllis Stoller of The Women’s Travel Group on some of the trends she sees in women’s travel.   Phyllis shared with The Lipstick Economy that women are asking much different questions today than they were ten years ago.  Here are some of her insights.

1.  Women expect the same level of travel hotels and services that they have experienced in their business travel. Both today’s working women and women who are now retiring are seeking quality hotels and other upmarket services they had in their business travels and conferences.  Women who have roles as executives, foreign service employees, and travel abroad students have had their standards in travel set by prior experiences.  They are not willing to settle for less in their leisure travel.  Between 2011 and 2012, Small Luxury Hotels saw a surge in lone female bookings with a 53 per cent increase in demand for rooms.

2.  Women are increasingly bi-lingual, making travel easier.  In today’s global economy, a recent survey showed that a third of all business executives are bi-lingual.  Most colleges require students to have at least two years of a foreign language.  This requirement is making travel more comfortable for many women

3.  Women ask questions and want smart answers about their destination and their fellow travelers.  Particularly in group travel experiences, women want to go prepared, with all of their questions answered, with a reading list to get them ready for the travel and some background on the persons with which they will be traveling.

4.  Women are more adventurous in travel than men.   Phyllis says that women are always seeking unusual and new destinations while men are more satisfied with more predictable golf resort destinations.  Even the London-Paris-Rome vacations have evolved into more exotic locales in South America, Asia and India.

5.  Frequent flier mileage and loyalty points may dictate times and destination of travel.  Even when going as a travel group, women are willing to book their own travel and arrive early to destinations so that they can use their frequent flier mileage and hotel rewards.

6.  Women traveling solo is growing.  Today’s women are okay traveling alone.  They may not be able to arrange dates to work with friends or family, and they are traveling solo in a group that might have their same interests in travel – adventure, culinary, art, history, etc.  Also women are traveling solo at all ages. More of travelers are traveling by themselves, compared to ten years ago.  Some of that can be attributed to the growth of the widowed and divorced, rising growth of “indies” and the growing longevity and vitality of those in their senior years.

7.  Women’s expectations for travel have grown beyond normal travel agents.  Their expectations for travel have been set by university, museum and club groups.  They are looking for more intellectual stimulation and “experience” in their travel.  They are also looking for these trips without paying the high costs that some of these trips have commanded in the past.  Some 75% of those who take cultural, adventure or nature trips are women.

8.  Women are deal seekers but discouraged by loss leaders that do not work for solo travelers.  Women are frustrated with the premium applied by some travel companies for traveling alone.  Some trips actually penalize solo travelers.  Cruise lines typically do not have “single” deals.  Not surprisingly,  most marketing is directed to couples and families.

Marketers who have not been marketing to women travelers are missing a huge part of the travel market.  Just like in other categories, the “nuclear family” and couples is not the only  targets for travel.

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