Did you know that nearly two-thirds of all travellers today are women? That’s is according to a recent report on Women in Business Travel published by FCM Travel Solutions, a division of the Flight Centre travel Group.

The report shows that women make 80% of all travel decisions. That means 670 million women around the world control US$15 trillion (R214 trillion) in spending power, making female travellers a market twice the size of China and India’s markets combined.

In Africa, 89% of businesses in Africa have at least one woman on their senior management teams, as compared to 75% of businesses worldwide.

Much research has been done in the recent years to understand the growing female market segment in the travel industry. In light of Women’s Day today, FCM Travel Solutions has listed 12 findings you never knew about women business travellers:

  1. Women business travellers like to travel.

Most business travellers like to travel. In fact, FCM research shows that women like to travel even more than their male counterparts with 45.83% of women saying they enjoy their travels as opposed to 39,58% of men. Although the value of business travel lies in face-to-face interaction and meeting colleagues, over half of travellers enjoy the sheer experience of travel and exposure to different cultures.

  • Time away from family is the biggest pain point for women

The most significant drawbacks of business travel identified by the study were time spent away from the family, and a dislike of travelling alone. Time spent away from the family is what 77.2% of respondents like least about business travel (although 26.9% of travellers said this is a benefit…). Disruption to work (37.8%) and disliking having to travel alone (14.3%) were two other prominent drawbacks. Women find business travel particularly disruptive to their work.

  • Men stay away longer than women

While women tend to make more overnight stays than men, more men stay away for longer. 31.1% of women make fewer than ten trips a year, compared to 18% of men. Overall men are travelling slightly more than women, although women attend more events and conferences, the result suggests.

  • Women are not overly impressed with airport facilities

In general, business travellers in general do not rate airport facilities too highly. More than 43% of travellers never use an airport lounge, while fewer than half of female travellers never use airport showers.

Of those who do use lounges before a flight, 15.3% of men do so regularly, compared to 7.7% of women. 24.9% of women said they never use a lounge, compared to 18.5% of men.

Airport showers are not gaining much traction amongst business travellers either. About 79.6% say they never use them, although men who do outnumber women by three to one (14.6% vs 5.7%). As with airport lounges, a higher percentage of female travellers (42.9%) do not use airport showers, compared to men (36.8%).

That’s maybe the main reason why women travellers generally hate wasting time at airports waiting and queuing, whereas delays and cancellations frustrate male travellers most.

  • Men are more tempted by Business Class than women

According to the study, most travellers fly economy on both short and long-haul flights, with premium economy most frequently flown for 10.7% of short-haul and 25.5% of long-haul. In business class, 13.5% of men turn left on the plane, compared to 9.7% of women.

  • Women are more loyal

Loyalty schemes appeal more to men than women with 10% of men 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.

  • A seat with a view, please

Half of business travellers prefer window seats, the study said, especially women. Only 5.8% of all travellers opt for the exit row, although of those who do, men outnumber women by more than three to one.

  • Safety is not gender-related

It appears that Duty of care is not gender-specific either. Most business travellers reach their hotels or meetings by official taxi or pre-arranged transfer.

  • Women like company

Most business travellers prefer to stay near their meeting or office, FCM found. However, they make hotel choices based not only on location, but also based on free Wi-Fi, 24- hour reception/security, price and on-site bar or restaurant.

Hotel restaurants and bars are equally popular amongst men and women, although 42.5% of men drink alone in the bar compared to 32.2% of women.

  1. Men like the gym, women prefer the spa

The continuing trend towards greater fitness and a healthy lifestyle is also evidenced in the survey. Half (50.9%) of all business travellers surveyed said they use the gym when staying in a hotel that has one, with 35.3% making use of spa facilities. Men frequent the gym more than women (29,9% vs 20.9% of women), while 20% of women said they use the spa, compared to 15.4% of men.

  1. Men are more likely to use the hotel amenities

Men are more likely to use hotel body-wash, shampoo and conditioner, in-room kettle and iron than women, but not the hairdryer.

  1. Women prefer hotels to Airbnb

More than half of business travellers said they would stay in an Airbnb property, although fewer women are willing to do so than men. That said, the results suggest women are more open to the concept than men.

Although these twelve facts illustrate the differences between male and female travellers, the overriding result of the study is in fact that men and women are really quite similar when it comes to business travel.

General Manager FCM South Africa Nicole Adonis says: “On this International Women’s Day 2019 under the theme of #BalanceforBetter, we are reminded to focus on a gender-balanced world. Our study has shown that male and female business travellers are more similar than ever before. With just a few exceptions, the tastes and habits of both genders are in fact the same.”