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Why do women book business travel earlier than men?

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we thought we’d look at a fascinating aspect of business travel; the different booking habits of men and women and what it might mean for your company’s profitability.

In 2014 travel management company Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) commissioned a survey into air travel trends and came to a surprising conclusion - on average, women book their business trips earlier than men.

Nor was this a small survey; 6.4 million transactions made by 1.8 million business customers were analysed, broken down by age and gender. The results were unexpected - women booked their flights on average almost 2 days earlier than their male counterparts and older customers (both men and women) booked their flights almost 5 days earlier than their younger colleagues.

Travel policy matters

Booking a business flight in advance is determined by company policy. Most policies will have firm deadlines, asking that the flight be booked two to three weeks before departure, depending on factors such as the destination. What is surprising is that, even considering these deadlines, women were still booking earlier than their male colleagues.

So why was this, what could it mean for a company’s profitability and how might we take advantage of this information?

Stress triggers

Well, women are often perceived to suffer more from ‘travel stress’ than men and are therefore perhaps more willing to plan ahead, if it increases the chance of finding a favourable flight deal and hotel combination. Inconvenient departure and arrival times, indirect flights, undesirable hotel standard and location – these were all factors which might trigger significant stress; all of these are areas in which early booking can make a real difference.

Reduce your travel costs

Still, to understand the impact of all this upon a company’s financial health, we have to look in more detail at how the numbers add up: in CWT’s study, the average saving when women booked tickets was shown to be 2%. This may not seem like a huge figure, but make a few calculations across a region and the projected figures (based on 2015 data[1]) are extraordinary.

  • Average cost of a ticket between European destinations - € 170
  • Number of business trips in Scandinavia - 8.72 million
  • Proportion of male travellers - 70 %
  • Potential annual savings across Scandinavia - € 20.7 million

With spending on business travel increasing year on year, perhaps the question shouldn’t be ‘why do women book earlier than men?’, but ‘how do we make all of our employees more efficient?’.

If a well-planned travel management policy could reduce travel costs by encouraging early booking, whilst at the same time making life easier for both employees and owners, then everyone wins. In an era where companies are looking at any possible way to trim unnecessary expense, €20 million of easy cost saving looks extremely attractive.

So, the moral of the story? Either hire more women or train men to behave more like them… (#BeBoldForChange)

Text: Charles Adams, Hägvall & Sjöman