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 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: Get Smart About Apps

April 25, 2013 § 1 Comment

travel-appsIt is becoming hard to say travel without talking about mobile devices today.  By 2014, smartphones and tablets are on track to capture nearly one in five travel dollars. And those who are marketing travel to women should take note of some of the opportunities and challenges.

Travel Decisions Made by Women

Some 80% of all travel decisions are made by women and 40% of travel is planned using a mobile device.  The tablet is the preferred device for planning travel and the smartphone is the choice for booking trips while on the go.  In fact, three-quarters (76%) of us reach for the smartphone when booking travel on the go.

Poor Mobile Experiences

So you know the drill – you are traveling and something happens to cause you to change your airline reservations.  You go to your handy app.   But you have a hard time loading the information, it gets confusing and then, you just call the airlines or the hotel or the car rental or the restaurant because it was a hassle figuring it out on that handy app.  It’s happened to me before – and apparently, lots of others.  A ResearchNow study released by Mobiquity shows the top negatives:

  • 60% of smartphone owners, 52% of tablet owners found mobile travel sites slow to load
  • 51% of tablet owners rated search and selection options on travel apps as complicated
  • 20% of tablet owners were disappointed the apps were not integrated with their loyalty programs

Poor mobile experiences can cause travelers to take an alternative course and could result in decreased revenue for travel brands.  More than a third (35%) of connected travelers would be less likely to book again with the travel brand after a slow, confusing of non-optimized experience when research or booking travel on a mobile device.  Some of the issues in addition to slow load time are  complicated search and selection, poor navigation, not linked to loyalty programs or not designed.

Top Mobile Travel Apps

The top mobile websites mostly include airlines and travel aggregators, such as TripAdvisor and Priceline.com.  Of the 8% of iPhone users that use travel apps, the top airline apps are:

United Airlines  (1.6%)
Southwest Airlines (1.5%)
Fly Delta (1.3%)
American Airlines (1.3%)
JetBlue (0.5%)

Some of the other popular apps for travel are included in the following infographic:



Marketing Travel to Women: Going Mobile

March 31, 2013 § 3 Comments

When looking at travel, women are the primary decision makers – making 80% of all decisions.  And we women are going mobile.  TripAdviser says some 40% of us use a mobile device to plan a trip.

A recently post on instant.ly identified two groups who are shaping mobile usage for tourism – Generation X and Digital Natives.    Gen X are the  ‘digital travellers’ making use of all  technologies in all stages of the customer journey  (mobile devices, tablets, desktop PCs etc.).  The  ‘digital natives’ (20th century kids) have grown up with technology and have interacted with digital technology from early stages in all lifetime situations.

According to Intrepid Travel, who booked over 100,00 US passengers for 2012,  63% were female (this is on par with the global figure of 64%).  The majority of  travellers were aged between 25 – 39 (46%).  So female travelers between the ages of 25 and 39 are their biggest market. Some 24 percent of American women have taken a girlfriend getaway in the past three years, and 39 percent of American women plan on taking one in the next three years.

iflymobiSocial Media, Location Based and Mobile (SoLoMo) Marketing

SoLoMo marketing is increasingly becoming a critical and pivotal tool for tourism marketing. It combines social media, location and context based marketing as well as mobile devices. Interactions are becoming digital real-time experiences at a physical location.

Top US Travel Apps / Sites

When looking at the top U.S. travel apps and sites, consumers seemingly prefer apps for guidance and the mobile Web for trip planning.  Seven out of the top 10 Travel apps during June 2012 featured a map/navigation function, while the top mobile websites mostly included airlines and travel aggregators, such as TripAdvisor and Priceline.com.  Nielsen_Travel-Apps-Sites_June-20121Interestingly, during a summer when gas prices were on the rise, GasBuddy, which lets users search for local gas prices, ranked as the number-two Travel app with nearly nine million users. Along with Google Maps, MapQuest and Southwest Airlines appeared on both lists but had more mobile Web users than app users.

Marketing to Women: Top 12 Posts from 2012

December 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

pinterest2012 marketing saw unanticipated events like the rise of Pinterest and Instagram – and disputed practices of Facebook and Instagram.  Facebook reached 1 billion users.  Changes to healthcare funding made marketing healthcare hugely important, and patient satisfaction rules. So here’s a quick read of what Lipstick Economy readers were interested in.

12. Marketing to Women:  Should You Focus on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter?  Overall, almost two out of five (38%) online consumers follow retailers through one or more social networking sites.  You need to understand the demographics and how it the social networks are used by your specific channels.

11.  Marketing to Women:  Blogs Drive Purchase Intent.  Recent research from BlogHer shows that 61% of active blog users say they have made a purchase based on a recommendation from a blog.  One of the leading indicators of purchase intent is trust.  And 81% of women trust the information and advice they receive from blogs

10.  Marketing to Women:  Facebook $1 Fee to Message Non-Friends.  Facebook calls the little charge an economic signal to determine relevance. I call it “selling my inbox”.  On a blog post, they say ”This test will give a small number of people the option to pay to have a message routed to the Inbox rather than the Other folder of a recipient that they are not connected with.”

9.  Marketing to Women:  Women Rule Social Media.  LinkedIn is the only exception to the more than 50% rule by women; the male-female split is 50-50.  Back in March, Google+ was the third largest social network, yet to be usurped by Pinterest.  An interesting infographic gave us real demographics for the networks such as 54% Tweeters are on Mobile, 36% Tweet at least once a day, and average time on site is 11 minutes.  Google+ users are more likely to be single geeks looking for friends.  The average number of Facebook friends is 130.  Two million companies are on LinkedIn.

8.  Marketing to Women:  A Picture on Pinterest Is Worth A Thousand Words.  Pinterest is the third most popular social network behind Facebook and Twitter.  The beauty of Pinterest is we don’t have to read someone else’s opinion  We can make our own.  It’s a beautiful thing.

7.  Marketing to Women: Instagram or Instagrim?  New Policies Announced.  Since Facebook went public and purchased Instagram, the pressure is mounting for added advertising income.  Some new policies were announced and within a week were revoked due to customer pressure.

6.  Marketing Healthcare to Women:  What Does Patient Satisfaction Mean?  Based on new health care reform legislation, patient satisfaction surveys will factor into how much money a hospital gets paid by Medicare.  Patient ratings will compose 30% of  the consideration, and clinical quality will determine 70% of the payments.  Hospitals could lose 1% of their Medicare payments.  The only way to earn it back will be improvement of scores, and a real understanding and delivery of patient satisfaction.  Warm friendly service, appetizing food, entertainment amenities like WiFi and cable, and a pleasing atmosphere are becoming more important to patients.

5.  Marketing to Women:  The Ultimate Travel Agents.  80% of all travel decisions are made by women.  Surprised?  75% of those taking cultural, adventure  or nature trips are women.  And boomer women are major players having the money, time and interests.

4.  Marketing to Women:  Pinterest Rules!  Pinterest has been a winner in driving traffic for many retailers.  Some even more than Facebook.  Pinterest is inspiration for purchase decisions.

3.  Marketing to Moms:  Childhood Obesity Number One Health Concern. With one-third children overweight, the epidemic is of concern because 50% of overweight children become overweight adults.  It’s an important topic for all marketers.

2.  Marketing to Women:  10 Cool Ways to Use Pinterest. Since 70% of women are on Pinterest, marketers should be there to.  But 2012 was a year when marketers were trying out Pinterest, trying to ascertain how best to use Pinterest.   It’s about research, common interests, promotions and linking.

1.  Marketing Healthcare to Women: Ten Things You Need to Know.  Since 80% of all healthcare decisions are influenced by women, it is appalling that two-thirds of women feel they are misunderstood by marketers.


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