NEW YORK Oct. 28, 2003 Representing a growing portion of the business travel population, women business travelers have come of age, according to a new study of business travelers conducted by the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at New York University (NYU Tisch Center) and sponsored by Wyndham International, Inc. This survey is the second conducted by NYU that explores the habits and attitudes of women business travelers and challenges popular myths such as business women bringing their children on business trips and feeling guilty while away on business.
Conducted in March of 2003, the new survey entitled "Coming of Age: The Continuing Evolution of Female Business Travelers" builds upon the 1999 NYU study sponsored by Wyndham International, Inc. of both female and male business travelers, and reveals that certain attitudes and behaviors toward business travel have remained the same, others have changed and some new elements have been added. Highlights include:
-- Women business travelers don't feel valued by the travel industry
-- Women very rarely or never take their kids along while traveling for business
-- Most women don't associate business travel with disruption of family life, increased stress on home life or feelings of guilt
-- Amenities that most help women be productive on the road include an in-room mini-bar, branded bath care products and spa services
-- Women incorporate relaxation time and/or leisure time while traveling for business
-- Technology plays an increasing role in business travel
"Before we examined the behaviors and challenges women face while on the road, we determined who the women business traveler is -- she takes one to four trips annually, is married and she is a baby boomer," said Dr. Lalia Rach, associate dean at NYU's School of Continuing and Professional Studies and head of the NYU Tisch Center. "Additionally, she has a bachelor's degree, earns up to $75,000, is a member of one frequent flier program and one to two frequent hotel guest programs and expected to take the same number of trips this year as last year."
According to the new study, female business travelers -- now estimated by the survey's author to be 40 percent of all business travelers -- primarily use the Internet to research and book travel plans, overwhelmingly use their own cell phones to make calls while staying at a hotel and see travel as positive and necessary to career advancement.
Women Business Travelers Don't Feel the Travel Industry Values Them as a Group
The survey measured how valued women feel by the airline and hospitality industries and found that they feel they are treated as a valued customer more often by hotels than by the airlines.
-- 51 percent of women feel that hotels "often" or "always" treat them as valued customers
-- 31 percent of women feel that airlines "often" or "always" treat them as valued customers
-- Only five percent of women felt they were "never" treated as valued customers by hotels
-- 15 percent of women "never" feel treated as valued customers by airlines
"Although most respondents feel valued by hotels, less than one-third feel valued by the airlines," said Rach. "Overall, there is an opportunity for both hotels and airlines to step up to the plate to improve their standing among women business travelers. Even constant business travelers, who are the industry's most valuable customers, don't feel valued often enough."
Women Find Business Travel a Positive Part of the Job
Despite a recognition that business travel has become more challenging since the last survey was conducted, women still value the intangible benefits associated with it. The survey found that women associate positive emotions with business travel, including the opportunity to broaden horizons, professional achievement and freedom from a daily routine. For instance:
-- 80 percent view business travel as a sign of professional achievement
-- 75 percent of women view business travel as an important part of their job
-- Even though 65 percent agree that business travel has become more difficult over the past year, the same number would continue to travel on business when given the choice
Women Don't Travel With Their Children on Business
A long-standing assumption in the travel industry is that women business travelers prefer that their children accompany them on business trips. In fact, 80 percent of women reported that they never take their children.
"The respondents to the survey indicated that they do not travel with their children and they don't consider travel to be a negative influence on family life," said Rach. "In fact, disruption of family life, increased stress on home life and feelings of guilt were the three lowest ranking emotions/attitudes that women related to business travel."
Carving Out Time for Oneself While on the Road
While women are on the road, they often put some of their time toward relaxation, although that number has declined slightly in the past four years. The study found that 65 percent of women include some aspect of relaxation into a business trip, compared with 68 percent in the 1999 survey. Of that 65 percent, 44 percent incorporate leisure time into their business trip, while 21 percent add vacation days to extend their stay.
Women's "Must Haves" While on the Road
This survey found that the in-room amenities respondents look for have less to do with business and more to do with personal needs. The top three amenities women "must have" to be productive on the road are a mini-bar (71%), brand-name bath amenities (56%) and spa services (47%), with long-standing items such as a fitness center (24%), high-speed Internet access (25%) and an in-room coffee maker (31%) ranked as the three lowest of the survey.
Creating a Productive Environment While Traveling
When asked what type of guest room features impact their productivity, the top answers varied based on how often the respondents traveled. An analysis of the choices indicated that a comfortable bed was most often one of the two features chosen with adequate lighting as well as complimentary phone calls and Internet access the second most popular.
"In basic terms, the female business traveler requires a good night's sleep and the ability to read without eyestrain," said Dr. Lalia Rach.
Technology's Role In Purchasing Travel and While On the Road
Since the 1999 study, Internet use has grown tremendously. The NYU Tisch Center study reveals that technology's role has increased at the front-end when female business travelers make their travel arrangements.
-- 64 percent of respondents "frequently" search online before booking an airline ticket, and almost half search online prior to booking a hotel room
-- 80 percent of all women business travelers purchase airline tickets online
-- 75 percent book hotel reservations online
-- Women business travelers rank proprietary airline Web sites as their first choice for booking airline tickets, followed by Travelocity.com and Expedia.com
-- Proprietary hotel Web sites are their first choice for booking hotel rooms, followed by Expedia.com and Travelocity.com
"The days of being forced to accept the most expensive fares are over according to businesswomen," said Dr. Rach. "More than three-quarters of those who responded said they often or always look for the lowest rate when booking a ticket."
And the day when the telephone was a source of revenue for hotels is now over, as 70 percent of women business travelers said they "always" or "often" use their cell phone over the guest room phone.
Although technology usage has increased pre-travel, heavy usage of high-speed Internet access and other new and wireless technology by women business travelers while on the road is not yet evident.
-- 42 percent never use high-speed Internet access in their hotel
-- 68 percent do not use a wireless device in their hotel
-- 80 percent of women never use dial-up or high-speed Internet access in the airport
"While the numbers in this study reflect that women's technology usage away from the office is relatively low, we anticipate this to increase significantly as the cost of mobile technology decreases," said Dr. Rach.
Price Drives Decisions - The Economy's Role in Business Travel
As more companies have scaled back on business travel expenses, women business travelers' habits have changed as well. For instance, in the 1999 survey, responsive service was the most important factor in women's hotel selection; this study showed that this has shifted to price, with 23 percent of women noting they stayed at a less expensive hotel in 2002. Location was a close second, and service slipped to being the least important consideration. The study also showed that while 77 percent "often" or "always" searched for the lowest airfare only 48 percent "often" or "always" searched for the lowest room rate online.
"This suggests that women are less price sensitive to hotel room rates, maybe because airlines do not provide an experience in the same way a hotel does," said Rach. "But obviously, value is a prime consideration for female business travelers."
An email survey was sent to randomly selected members of Business and Professional Women/USA (BPW/USA), National Association of Women Business Owners and Leadership America, three national not-for-profit professional women's associations. The three organizations have a combined membership of more than 40,000 located throughout the country. Respondents had to have taken one business trip in the past year in order to participate in the survey; a total of 596 women were analyzed.
"Coming of Age: The Continuing Evolution of Female Business Travelers," will be available on the Web at (www.scps.nyu.edu/womenbiz) and (www.womenontheirway.com).
About the NYU Tisch Center at the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies
The Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at New York University is a dynamic and growing educational and research center founded in July of 1995. The NYU Tisch Center offers an extensive complement of hospitality, tourism and sports management academic programs of study including two bachelor's degree programs, three master's degree programs, and certificate programs. The curriculum focus is on asset management, financial analysis, destination management, marketing and customer relationship management. In addition, the Center conducts groundbreaking industry-relevant research and has sponsored for 25 years the annual NYU International Hospitality Industry Conference.
The NYU Tisch Center is housed within NYU's School of Continuing and Professional Studies (NYU SCPS). Founded in 1934, NYU SCPS enrolls more than 60,000 adult learners annually, offering 2,500 credit and noncredit courses that span more than 125 fields. The School, a nationally-known leader in adult education, offers busy professionals the choice of 12 masters degree programs, nine bachelors programs, six associates degrees and seven graduate and 110 other professional certificate programs to educate them for leadership in New York City's key business sectors, ranging from real estate, healthcare, management and hospitality to marketing, finance, law, film entertainment and publishing.
"Wyndham is dedicated to furthering both the education of, and knowledge about women," said Cary Jehl Broussard, vice president of marketing for Wyndham's WOMEN ON THEIR WAY(R) program. "We've got a strong track record of providing resources to women to ensure they achieve their goals, and this study is another way we can better understand this important segment of the business travel population to help them on their way."
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is an innovative, upscale hotel brand with properties in the U.S., Caribbean, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Owned, managed and franchised by Wyndham International, Inc. (AMEX:WBR), Wyndham's brand philosophy centers on listening and responding to the needs of all travelers through Wyndham ByRequest(R), its guest recognition program, and WOMEN ON THEIR WAY(R), which caters to the needs of women business travelers.
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