I am a solo female traveler. Whether I’m traveling for leisure or for work (or a little bit of both) I often find myself on my own – loving the journey and even blogging about it. I’m not the only one doing so based on the anecdotal evidence which I gathered through comments posted on my blog, reading various blogs by other female travelers, lurking in numerous travel-related fora, interviews with other female travelers and online surveys.
The recent report issued by Amadeus IT Group validated some of the findings that I gathered through my informal research. The female traveler sector is definitely a growing market, but what is more significant is the rise of the Asian female business traveler market – a previously untapped market niche which is seen to rise by as much as 400% in the next two decades.
But very few in the industry are customizing their offerings to ambitious and adventurous thirty to forty-something women executives from Asia -Pacific who usually combine work with leisure trips. I have seen some women-only tour groups, and I’m frankly disappointed that not only do they exclusively market them to Western women, but they are also too expensive and are only open to leisure travelers, who of course can spare at least a week just to travel.
So what do Asian women business travelers want?
Like most travelers, Asian women business travelers want safe journeys, value for money products and services, comfort and convenience, and an opportunity to use our travels to meet new friends, business contacts and even romantic interests.
But I believe that more than addressing the wants, it’s valuable to address the why – why do female Asian business travelers choose to craft their own journeys?
It is because solo travel is the way for us to finally have the time for ourselves – one of the few times that we can let go of our culturally conditioned roles as nurturers and just let our hair down. This is the time that we can get away from the responsibilities from our community and family, escape and defy a culture that puts us in a certain box. Any company should delve deeper into this psyche if they wish to attract more female Asian business travelers.
Below is a random list of things that I hope the travel and hospitality industries will consider in their marketing strategies:
- Reach out to more travel/career/fashion bloggers, invite them for fam tours as women usually trust peer recommendations. And given that most of these bloggers have a more personalized approach in dealing with their online community, women are most likely to trust what the bloggers recommend over ads posted in traditional media outlets. I also believe that companies should approach bloggers who have a following among thirty to forty-something women – as women in the middle and senior management posts most likely belong to this demographic.
- Travel and hospitality industries need to be more active in social media – as women – more than men – are in there. But corporate Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest accounts should not be treated as newsfeed for updates about their companies, but more of a way to build a more devoted community. Hence, these accounts need to be responsive to concerns, desires and problems raised by their customers.
- Hotels might consider setting up health and wellness centers, not just gyms filled with dumbbells and treadmills. Working women want to remain fit but we’re now into more mind-body exercises and not muscle building and/or weight loss. How about a center which offers regular yoga classes, Zumba, Qi Gong or Pilates?
- Hotel-based day spas can expand their services beyond massages, facials and manicures, and offer alternative health services that interest women such as Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine and even Reiki.
- Tour organizers may want to consider offering weekend spirituality tours as self-realization is gaining ground and most female travelers want to go on inner journeys. Meditations, visits to sacred places, intuitive readings, energy healing and – depending on client’s interest – lectures on Eastern religions, Jewish mysticism or Goddess spirituality – may be included in the package.
- Put an Asian face in the marketing campaigns. If you have a budget for an endorser – get a high profile Asian female executive that your client wishes to emulate. Also be more localized in your approach – Asia is a diverse continent and just putting a Chinese or Indian face in your marketing collaterals will not appeal to all Asian markets.
More importantly, the travel industry needs to invest in research that will build on the data that Amadeus IT Group has supplied in its recent report.
As a single Asian female business traveler myself – I’m a Filipina journalist who travels to cover various conferences overseas – I know for a fact that Asian female business travelers in general have big spending power, a big disposable income which we use to pamper ourselves and the family and friends that we love. Whenever we travel, we squeeze in even a bit of time to go to a spa, visit tourist spots and shop for ourselves and for gifts for our loved ones. When we’re happy with the service that we receive, we don’t hesitate to recommend them to our social circle.
So dig deeper and get into the hearts and minds of female travelers – that’s the only way to win in this lucrative market niche.
About the author:
Prime Sarmiento is a Southeast Asia-based travel/science journalist and co-founder of The Gypsygals – one of the leading online resources for female travelers who love to craft their own journeys.