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bmi regional reveals top trends in female business travel

Women are more organised, plan further ahead and differ in terms of their travel priorities, according to a survey of over 1,000 business travellers commissioned by bmi regional to understand the behaviour and demands of women travelling on business.

The independent research reveals that women have their own distinct travel habits that differentiate female travellers from their male colleagues. A quarter of women business travellers fly more now than they did five years ago and women tend to plan their business travel further in advance than men, with 39 per cent making arrangements less than four weeks in advance compared to 20 per cent of men, who tend to plan just a few days ahead.

While 28 per cent of women feel safe when abroad for business, 15 per cent prefer to travel with a companion. Women’s adaptability to travel environments has been highlighted in Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) research*, suggesting men are far more concerned about status when flying - such as travelling in a premium class - than their female counterparts.

A quarter of respondents said single sex lavatories on aircraft would be a good idea, but only six per cent of female respondents to the poll say they’d be willing to pay to benefit from single sex facilities. Ten per cent would welcome separate seating sections for women on aircraft.

“This research shows that small differences that can make all the difference,” said Cathal O’Connell, CEO at bmi regional. “There are subtle differences in the way men and women travel. Given changes in the UK workforce over recent years, it is perhaps not surprising that the travel sector tries to woo women with female-only hotel floors and adapted guest rooms, but our results show that female business travellers are not put off from solo travel by what is currently on offer from airlines, hotels and restaurants.”

He continued: “However, it is clear that one size does not fit all – male and female. Our own inflight service feedback clearly shows that female fliers prefer lighter meals, especially on morning flights. We, as an airline, are taking some of these on board, and rethinking our own offerings, such as adapting on board menus to deliver healthy choices.”

O’Connell added: “A larger hold luggage option can benefit women in terms of convenience and saving time. Minimising disruption, especially for frequent business travellers, around security matters – such as the size of toiletries carried in the cabin – makes a notable difference, and having a guaranteed checked baggage allowance means that passengers know they always have hold luggage in which to pack all their toiletries, regardless of size.”  

Debbee Dale, Vice Chair Association of Women Travel Executives (AWTE), said: “It is great that companies such as bmi regional and CWT are investing in these types of surveys for women business travellers. Women play a vital role in business and as time goes on and we see even more women take lead roles in organisations, we would like to believe that forward-thinking companies will look after our women business traveller. The needs and wants differ from person to person, however both genders differ in terms of priorities when travelling and we support any organisation that works to meet those wants, needs and priorities.”

In 2013 bmi regional, the UK’s most punctual scheduled airline, launched 12 new routes from Birmingham and Bristol to complement existing services from other regional hub airports.

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