Ten New Trends for Women Travelers

March 10, 2015 § 3 Comments

phyllis photo correctWomen 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.

Phyllis Stoller is truly an expert on women travelers.  As head of The Women’s Travel Group since 1992, she is on the front line of travel trends and shares her Top Ten 2015 observations with us.  She says that women continue to lead in researching their trips, are seeking more exotic destinations, and are more interested in a healthy diet while traveling.  Understanding these trends is important to marketing to women travelers.

Here are her top ten new trends:

  1. Live for today spending. Overall, a carpe diem mentality is surpassing budget concerns. Maybe it is the economy or maybe single women are finally more affluent. A recent article in the NY Times examined the lifestyle of a healthcare employee, concluding that her higher-per-hour salary put her in a strong financial position for increased spending. And we are seeing these more affluent women traveling.   These women are in a professional position that allows for more discretionary spending.
  2. Women are requesting specific experiences. Online review sites are helping define and prioritize what women will do with their time on a trip, even where they will shop.  I have seen actual shopping lists with specific names of oversea stores. Online reviews encourage list making. We observe women listing specific places they want to visit on an itinerary, rather than stating just a destination like Tuscany.
  3. We still see unusual trips selling out fastest. The idea of leaving ‘your comfort zone’ has leaked into travel. A frisson, even a little scary, is a draw for many women. Women are seeking unusual and new destinations while men are more satisfied with more predictable golf resort destinations. Women are also looking for more intellectual stimulation and experience in their travel; 75% of those who take cultural, adventure or nature trips are women.
  4. Healthy diet on the road is increasingly important. As regional cuisine has become more sophisticated throughout the US, fine dining overseas is less of a priority, unless it comes with an experience (famous farm meal, known winery,  cooking demo).
  5. Hotel amenities become part of the travel experience. Along with the more liberal spending for travel, we notice women are again using hotel amenities like spa services. Their enjoyment of travel extends beyond the last tour, as women pack use of the hotel into each day. Today’s working women seek quality hotels and services equivalent or better than their business travel standards.
  6. Smartphones are the new travel accessory. Everyone has a smart phone.  Older women will actually get their smart phone before a trip as part of their travel gear. Wifi is the new umbilical cord for many. Entering a lovely hotel with wifi, women will look at their phones before admiring the lobby.
  7. Solo travelers still penalized. The single supplement is still an issue regarding cost and availability. Women are frequently penalized with a premium applied by some travel companies for traveling alone. Sharing is an option many still choose. But with a stronger economy, the single cost is slightly less formidable this year.
  8. Frequent flyer consultants needed. Frequent flyer mile accumulation continues to bother women; part of our job today is to help with creative uses of frequent flyer miles. Tour operators need to be frequent flyer consultants or lose passengers’ attention.
  9. No age limit for traveling. We see women 80+ still happy to travel and not just on cruises. As an FYI, three women of this age group went to India with us October 2014 along with other women aged 40+.
  10. Airline upgrades are more frequent among women. Maybe the upgrades are a sign of the economy or extra frequent flyer miles. But the upgrades are also a trend of not being afraid to spend money on one’s self.

Read more trends about marketing travel to women here.



Smartphone is Smart Tool for Travel Research

March 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

HiResThe smartphone has become the go-to tool for travel and travel planning. Some 85% of American travelers reported using smartphones while on holiday, while just 46% reported using tablets.

Travel Bragging?

Sixty-one percent (61%) of travelers report using social media while on vacation because most don’t want to miss out on any of their friends’ or families’ news while away, and 10 percent (10%) want to make their friends jealous with their travel updates.

When traveling, we are still using our smartphones for calling and texting. But we are also looking for restaurants, posting those great pictures on Facebook, looking for travel sites and reading reviews. Once we are at our destination, some 58% of leisure travelers use online sources to evaluate local activities.

Going Mobile

Travel professionals are trying to make their mobile offerings a priority. And for good reason, the top mobile offerings U.S. travelers are looking for from a travel business are a mobile-friendly website, ability to book and special offers.

According to Trip Advisor, the top five apps we use for travel planning are travel advice/recommendation like TripAdvisor, weather, hotel/accommodation, airline and activity.

So it is no surprise, that 2015 will be the tipping point for digital travel research. eMarketer reports half of digital travel researchers will check out flights, hotels and more, not just on a laptop or desktop, but also on a mobile device. By 2018, 71% of travel research will be mobile.

Marketing Travel to Women: Traveling Solo and Loving It!

February 13, 2014 § 2 Comments

IMG_3281Paula Froelich, author of A Broad Abroad, knows quite a lot about traveling solo.  There are 32 million single women who traveled solo in the past year.  And when I say travel, I don’t mean going home to Mama’s or the beach.  Women are taking adventure vacations and going to exotic locales all over the world.  (Read Paula’s tips on why you should go to Egypt now.)

In fact, the average adventure traveler is not a male, but a 47-year-old female.  Fueling this travel trend is the growth in single women.  One third of all women are single “indies” – a new term for those over 27, not married, not living with a partner and without children.

So it is time for travel marketers to acknowledge this growing group of travelers.  These women are more educated, affluent, adventurous and curious about life.  They want real experiences that are intellectually stimulating.  And they would like the marketing to speak to them and their needs – not the happy empty nester couple or the nuclear family.

Read more in Paula’s great infographic.SOLO-TRAVEL-INFOGRAPHIC

Marketing to Women: Top Ten 2013 Lipstick Economy Posts

December 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

A little retrospective on what you thought was most interesting in The Lipstick Economy this year. These are the top posts on marketing to women from this year.  A confusing year for women – Sheryl Sandberg told us to “lean in”,  Miley showed us how to twerk and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer extended paid leave for parents and banned telecommuting.  

iStock_000012573383XSmallMarketing Travel to Women: Eight New Trends You Need to Know.  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 and they have different expectations from travel than men.

Marketing to Women: Growth of Women in Marketing.  Almost a third of all Americans are employed in marketing-related positions.  That’s a staggering number if you think about it.  And it is a path for women to grow up the corporate ladder.   A recent study by a recruiting firm found that more top executives have come out of marketing than of any other area.

Marketing to Women: Why Marketers Don’t Understand Women.  For the first time in history, women now outnumber men in the workforce. Women are more educated, accounting for approximately 58% of students in two- and four-year colleges.   We account for 85% of all consumer purchases.   Purchases include homes, healthcare, cars, travel and computers.  And 96% list “being independent” as their single most important life goal.  But research says 91% of women don’t think marketers understand them.

M_BeyonceSuperBowl_101612Marketing to Women: Women Watching Super Bowl Too!  More women are watching the Super Bowl than the Academy Awards! In 2012, 54 percent of the roughly 111 million viewers who tuned in to watch the Superbowl on Fox were men, compared to 46 percent women.

Marketing to Women: Your Elevator Speech in 15 Seconds.  Sometimes the most important things are not addressed in business.  This handy guide to creating your elevator speech in 15 seconds is vital.  At New Year’s when you are at that party and someone asked you what you do, what will you say?

Marketing to Women: Six Things to Know About #Hashtags.  Hashtags are everywhere.  Some 24% of tweets contain hashtags. And 71% of people on social media use hashtags.  Even Facebook instituted the lowly pound mark that has become a strong marketing tool.  Do you know when to hashtag and not to hashtag?

Marketing to Women: One-third of All Women Are Single “Indies”.  It’s a new day for women and there is even a new term for the group that are over 27, not married, not living with a partner, and without children.  They are called the Indies.  This group has been growing and currently include some 31 million women, about a third of all adult women.  They now surpass the number of married moms!

Marketing to Women: Emotional Connection Important for Healthcare.  A recent study shows that 85% of consumers say it is important or very important to them to do business with a company for which they have strong emotions, per survey results from rbb Public Relations.  And the industry for which it is most important is healthcare.

Marketing to Women: Power to the PANKs.  PANKs, Professional Aunts No Kids.  They are actively involved in the lives of children around them.  In fact, one in five women is a PANK, or approximately 23 million Americans.  PANKs are roughly half of all the women who are not a mother or grandmother.  This group is actually growing as women are choosing to stay single or marry later.  PANKs spend $9 billion on toys and gifts for children annually.

Marketing to Women: Top 10 Culinary Trends for Restaurants.  The top 2013 trends included healthy kid’s food, iced tea, gluten-free, Greek yogurt and more.

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.

Marketing Travel to Women: The Roadmap

July 7, 2013 § 2 Comments

postcard-frontAmericans have taken back the vacation that eluded them during the recession.  Almost two-thirds (63%) of all American adults are planning to travel for pleasure during the next 12 months, based on a recent study by Shullman Research.  Half of those travelers will be staying in the U.S.

As the income rises, so does the propensity for travel.  Among those making more than $250,000, 88% plan to travel for pleasure.  And for that famous 1%, those making more than $500,000, their travel expenditures will be three time more than all adults.   Where are those traveling outside the US going? Those traveling outside the United States during the next 12 months are more inclined to consider specific destinations (75%) such as Europe (the #1 destination), then the Caribbean, Mexico, Bermuda, Central/South America, and Asia.

Marketing Sways Opinion

Roughly 8 in 10 Americans pay attention to travel marketing and advertising, according to results from a survey commissioned by SpringHill Suites, a Marriott International brand.  Women make some 80% of all vacation plans and are more enticed by marketing and advertising than men.

The average American thinks the perfect length of a vacation is 12 days. Most work about 11 months (47 weeks) between vacation breaks. Men, however, go longer between vacations than women (about 1 year or 52 weeks vs. about 10 months or 43 weeks).  And travelers without kids vacation less often that those with kids. On average, there is just over 1 year (14 months) between vacations for travelers without kids, and about 8 months (31 weeks) between vacations for those with kids.postcard_greetings_florida

Budgets Are Important

Four in five (81%) vacationers set a budget, with more women than men (86% vs. 76%) doing this. In fact, over three in four (77%) of those who don’t consider themselves to be budget conscious in their everyday life set a vacation budget.

HENRY, can you hear me?  

Pam Danziger points to the HENRYs (High Earnings, Not Rich Yet) as leading the way in many affluent travel purchases.  Even though HENRYs have a far lower spending threshold than ultra-affluents, there are just so darn many of them.  There are ten HENRY households for every ultra-affluent.

The affluents are modeling their behavior like HENRYs.  They are getting to their destination the cheapest way possible, but once there splurging on a four or five star luxury hotel and dining experiences.


Marketing Travel to Women: Do Travelers Trust Online Reviews?

April 27, 2013 § 4 Comments

images-1It’s the travel season.  I recently booked rooms in far-flung places where I had to rely on online reviews to steer my decisions. I looked for high ratings, seemingly honest guest reviews and photos that travelers had taken.

Do consumers trust online reviews for hotels?  Yes, of course they do, and they trust online reviews more than brand websites and ads.  TripAdvisor recently celebrated an impressive new statistic:  the travel review site reached 100 million reviews and opinions this month.  The reviews include more than 2.5 million accommodations, restaurants, attractions, and local businesses in more than 116,000 destinations.  Central Park in New York has more than 12,000 reviews!

 Here are some of the findings from Trip Adviser:

95% of travelers say reviews are trustworthy.

78% of travelers say reviews help them feel more confident in their booking decisions.

74 percent of travelers say that they write and post online reviews because they want to share a good experience with others.

53% of travelers won’t book a hotel that has no reviews.

35% of new reviews on TripAdviser are submitted by Facebook-connected travelers.

5% claim the hotel was not as good as the reviews implied, but 80% say the hotel met their expectations based on the reviews.

What signals a trustworthy review?  Travelers look for the number of reviews, pictures and images, and the quality and detail.  And all hotels should respond to hotel reviews.  I gave the Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago high marks because they have an active social media presence and will respond to guests on social media.  It sets them apart. Almost 90 percent of hotel general managers agree that it’s critical for their staff to manage, respond to, and monitor hotel reviews on user review websites like TripAdvisorYelpGoogle+ Local, and Travelocity.

To find out how to spot a fake review, check out the infographic from Olery.


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