Female-only hotel floors and rooms, segregated seating in train carriages, special drop-off areas for car rental pick up and returns – these are just some of the ways in which the travel industry is molding their service to appeal to the female traveller.
But should female business travellers be treated any differently to their male counterparts, and do they want to be?
According to International SOS, it must be acknowledged that when a female traveller goes on a business trip, she may be more vulnerable than her male colleagues simply by nature of the destination to which she is travelling.
Almost two thirds of female business travellers, according to a recent study by global women’s business travel network Maiden Voyage, indicate that there are certain destinations they would not travel to, that they would probably travel to as a man, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Brazil and even Japan.
In a world where countries that were previously regarded safe are no longer necessarily considered so, it is essential that risk management programmes pay attention to the needs of business travellers, whether these are men or women. While female travellers should not be treated any differently, they have different needs that need to be considered.
“It’s about a personalised approach rather than giving preferential treatment,” explains Astrid Loury, International SOS Regional Security Information Analyst. “We need to look at ethnicity, the countries travellers are travelling to and factors that could make them more vulnerable in a given place. It’s important that women understand the local situation, how they might be treated and to ensure they know the environment they will be stepping into.”
According to a recent global study, almost 80% of female business travellers claim they are under-prepared to deal with the incidents they encounter. Almost a third have suffered harassment or petty theft while travelling.
But do South African female business travellers follow global trends, especially when travelling across Africa? Should special focus be given to female travellers who leave the comfort of home for work?