Operations

What Traveling Women Really Want

Anne Daniells
Posted on March 29, 2017

Girls just wanna have fun, it’s true. And maybe diamonds could be their best friend, but don’t let those light-hearted adages mislead you about what female travelers want and need.

These days, nearly 25% of business travelers are women, and they have different risks and concerns associated with journeying solo. A recent Business Travel Executive (BTE) article interviewed Michell Lee, founder and CEO of Women in Travel (WINiT), a network of women and men who support the development of women in the business travel industry.

“In most cases, I hold the view the challenges we face with international business travel are gender neutral,” Lee tells BTE. “Women and men both need to educate themselves on local laws and customs, ensure they adjust their approach out of respect for each culture, and familiarize themselves on high risk locations. That said, there is no dispute that physically women are at a disadvantage when it comes to safety and security.”

Know Your Client’s Needs

With the endless headlines on how transportation network companies (TNCs) give short shrift to safety, chauffeured transportation companies have a golden opportunity to show how they provide superior travel experiences for women. Constantly looking into how to improve this sense of security can lead to preserving and growing your market share among female business travelers.

Duty of care normally refers to the security and safety we bring to our clients. It requires we act toward others with watchfulness, attention, prudence, and caution based on the circumstances. However, maintaining duty of care for female travelers adds increased responsibility to our standard chauffeured car service. This isn’t hard to understand once you realize the difference in the watchfulness and attention women have when traveling alone.

Consider this: Men simply don’t do the things we do. Men don’t carry keys between their fingers, ready to harm an attacker, but women do this on every street. Men don’t worry about who is behind them in hotel hallways, but women notice it every time and will even walk past her own door until the male hotel guest goes into his room so he doesn’t know which room houses a female. We drop back after exiting hotel elevators so males are in front of us and not behind as we go to our hotel rooms. Descending to an underground parking lot may be a little uncomfortable for everyone who has watched enough film noire, but for women, it is very real — we often wait until another group is going down so as not to be alone in an isolated location. We aren’t necessarily paranoid, but precautious in providing our own duty of care. If a chauffeur has the same awareness, trust is built quickly.

Safe & Secure Women

Safety is part of our industry’s primary offerings and benefits. Our background checks, training, and DMV pull programs help ensure clients are in good hands. Unlike TNCs that do little to guarantee the integrity of their drivers, the limousine industry pledges to deliver a secure service.

For female clients, taking an extra step or two will help add a great sense of comfort and safety. Try these service tips for securing your female clients’ safety and their repeat business:

  • Pre-pay for the ride: For female clients in the U.S. and abroad, eliminate the need for cash by always taking credit cards as payment for the complete service, including tip. The transaction is safer for both parties financially, and it also prevents a woman from having to open a purse and expose cash and credit cards. If this is not feasible in your operation, be sure to complete the transaction before the vehicle is unlocked and the doors opened.
  • Offer female chauffeurs: In general, women trust women more than men. It’s a bond of safety we nurture, and a female chauffeur will ease fears of being with a strange man in a strange car, especially in a strange locale. Hire enough women yourself so you can offer women an alternative, and expect the same of your affiliates.
  • Text or call at the airport: Landing in a strange airport alone has its perils. One of the most comforting gifts for any traveler is receiving a text or message as soon as a phone can be turned on while taxiing to the gate. Simply knowing the name of the chauffeur and how to reach him or her is very reassuring. No client, especially a woman, wants to wonder if the ride has arrived, nor does she appreciate being stuck looking for a reputable taxi driver or other ground transportation. Being alone in a strange place raises all sorts of warnings for women, so put them at ease once the plane is wheels down.
  • Photos: Even better, invest in software that sends the chauffeur’s photo to make it easier for the client to find them. This also alleviates some fear in the wee hours. An early flight means a very early pick-up from a strange person at your home who knows your residence will be empty and vulnerable. Recognizing a pre-screened friendly face adds a modicum of safety.
  • Confirm names and destinations: Just because someone has a sign with a name on it does not mean it feels safe to the female traveler. Telling travel plans to a stranger does not always feel comfortable. Just recently, I heard about a female client who did not want to give her name and destination to her male chauffeur. She figured he should already know that. Of course, he could have handled this in a variety of ways, simply by confirming her last name for starters. We must confirm we have the correct passengers, but we must also put them at ease.
  • Luggage assistance: This is standard, of course, but it’s especially helpful for women. All those shoes get heavy, after all. This may not be a matter of safety as much as it is one of gender strength, as lifting a bag from a trunk is not easy. The person who invented luggage with wheels deserves a prize, but a little help goes a long way when a woman’s computer and personal bag keeps slipping off her shoulder.
  • Offer a hotspot: This may seem like overkill, but I’ve heard female travelers ask for Wi-Fi in vehicles so their phones or computers can be tracked if anything goes awry. A physical assault would be terrible, but not being rescued quickly would be worse.
  • Drop in a safe area: Drop off locations at larger hotels are usually well-manned, but boutique inns in a strange city at midnight or lower vacancy budget hotels in suburban areas can be dark and eerily quiet. If there is room to leave the vehicle for a moment, just walking a female passenger to the front door with her luggage alleviates some concern and adds a layer of security. Or at least wait until she is inside, especially if the hotel locks doors to non-keycard holders after 11 p.m.

Duty of care for women may be a touch more difficult than for male passengers, but since women make 80% of travel decisions, it is a small investment for future success. Cater to women, understand their needs in travel, and you will become their valuable diamond in ground transportation.

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Related Topics: chauffeur training, client markets, duty of care, passenger safety, Safety, TNCs, women in the industry

Anne Daniells contributing writer
Comments ( 2 )
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  • James Pappas

     | about 2 years ago

    Interesting picture for this article. Yet, I didn't notice it mentioned. I'd often have a female client riding alone. She would often walk to the door behind the driver. While I think often it's maybe habit or not being aware the passenger seat is set far forward, I realized that it may be a comfort issue for the female passenger. After hearing from drivers who aren't terribly trustworthy about how they adjust the mirror to be able to check out an attractive female passenger, I realized that may be an issue. So instead of insisting that they sit where they'll be more comfortable, I simply let them know the other side has more room but please sit where they'd like. I try to be ultra sensitive to every thought any of my clients may have. Kind of along the line of averting my gaze when a woman with a skirt gets in while I'm holding the door...

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