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Emerging economies such as Africa are leading the way when it comes to transforming the workplace.

Seventy-five per cent of businesses around the world have at least one woman on their senior management teams. In Africa, this number rises to an impressive 89%.

As a result, we see a lot more women in travel. Nearly two-thirds of all travellers today are women, with women making 80% of all travel decisions. That means 670 million women around the world control $15 trillion in spending power, making female travellers a market twice the size of China and India’s markets combined.

Although a lot has been said about the differences between men and women in corporate travel, the reality is that male and female business travellers are probably more similar, more homogeneous, than ever before.

This is according to a recent report, ‘Women in Business Travel’, published by FCM Travel Solutions in the UK, which shows that barring a few exceptions, the tastes and habits of female and male business travellers are mostly the same.

A perhaps surprising finding is that both men and women really enjoy travelling for business. Forty-five per cent of women in the report said that they enjoy travelling on business in comparison with 39 per cent of men. Both said they enjoy face-to-face interaction most (60 per cent), followed by meeting colleagues and the experience of travel.

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Both genders also dislike the same aspects of business travel. Top of the list is being away from family or partner (72 per cent), followed by disruption to work, (38 per cent) and disliking having to travel alone (14 per cent).

Men and women share the same frustrations when it comes to flying. Time spent waiting and queuing at airport are female travellers’ biggest bug-bears, compared to delays and cancellations for men.

Also, duty of care is currently not gender-specific. For example, most business travellers reach their hotels or meetings by official taxi or pre-arranged transfer.

One notable gender difference which emerged, however, is the reason for business travel. Meeting clients is the single biggest reason for men (22 per cent), but is only true for 12 per cent of women, whose main reason is internal meetings (13 per cent) against 10 per cent for men.

Loyalty schemes are a more powerful pull for men, with 10% citing rewards as a key factor in airline choice, compared to 6.7% of women, even though 70% of female travellers belong to an airline loyalty programme, compared to 37.2% of men.
Other findings of the FCM survey include:

•vnearly equal proportions of men and women travel by air.
• use of airport lounges makes only a minor contribution to the enjoyment of travel with 23 per cent of respondents using one every trip. In fact, 25 per cent of women say they never use a lounge.
• hotel restaurants and bars are equally popular among men and women, although 42 per cent of men drink alone in the bar compared with 32 per cent of women
• men are more likely to use hotel body-wash, shampoo and conditioner, in-room kettle and iron than women
• more than half of business travellers would stay in an Airbnb, although fewer women are willing to do so than men

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“Although the report is based on findings in the UK, we can see very similar trends in South Africa. Also in our country, male and female business travellers are more similar than ever before. With just a few exceptions, the tastes and habits of both genders are the same,” says Nicole Adonis, South Africa General Manager, FCM Travel Solutions.

A full copy of FCM’s ‘Women in Business Travel’ report can be downloaded here.