Why women pay less for business travel

We all know that women rock, as we celebrated Women’s Day at the beginning of the week. But, as it turns out, women are also smarter than men when it comes to booking business travel.

Male travellers could save up to $48,000 (R640 000) a year by booking the same way women do, according to a recent study conducted by Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) Solutions Group. That is the estimated savings amount for a company with 1 000 travellers, of which 70% are presumed to be men, who take on average four trips per year.

CWT conducted the study on a data set of 6.4 million air-booking transactions during 2014 by a sample of 1.8 million travellers aged between 25 and 70 years old, with a 70:30 male-female ratio. The study showed that female business travellers book an average of 1.9 days ahead of men, and this saves them $17.30 (R230) on the average paid fare in comparison to male travellers. Whilst the amount only makes up to approximately 2% of the average ticket price, its aggregate impact is difficult to ignore.

Advance booking without a doubt ties into the success of any corporate travel program. As opposed to the leisure segment, business travel is more constraining regarding the dates and places of travel, which implies a smaller selection of flights or hotels is typically available to travelers. As seats get filled, prices increase according to the yield management strategies defined by airlines. With very few exceptions, booking early saves money.

The report also declared that age played a role. Advance booking improves with age. As age increases from 30 to 70, the advance booking increases by roughly 5 days for both genders. Nevertheless, women consistently ranked higher for advanced bookings than male counterparts across all 10 age categories.

The relationship between advance booking and annual trip frequency was also investigated. As trips become more frequent, advanced booking decreases. This is partly explained by the increased percentage of short-haul trips taken (60% to 73%) and by the lower lead time available to book.

The study urged TMCs and travel managers to move beyond all-traveller averages towards analysing and understanding traveller segments top open up new ways of managing travel. This in turn represents a step forward in the quest for travel personalisation.