by Cary J. Broussard
Vice President, WOMEN ON THEIR WAY ® Marketing
for Wyndham International
More and more women are traveling on business and taking advantage of the social and ecnomic opportunities that travel provides
Not only that, but women business travelers have transformed the industry by insisting on higher levels of comfort and more attention to details.
When I dreamed of what I wanted “to be” when I grew up, the only thing I was absolutely sure about: I had to travel.
Maybe it was growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, on the Mississippi River, wondering where the “Mighty Miss” was headed…. Besides wanting to escape the humidity, perhaps it was watching the Mary Tyler Moore television show - seeing a young career woman, “make it” in the big city.
How many of us can recall the excitement we felt, dreaming of one day traveling outside of our known existence?.… New York, D.C., Miami Beach, San Francisco, St. Louis, New Orleans, even Disneyland (not to mention London and Paris!)…I, for one, never want to lose that feeling of excitement and wonder about traveling.
We have come a long way, baby, (and quickly) in redefining the travel experience.
Many of us who are baby-boomers, are the first generation in our families to travel extensively. Remember piling into the family station wagon and driving off on a family vacation once a year or watching dad drive away on a sales call in his Ford, calling home from the Holiday Inn? Or maybe you didn’t take a family vacation, which was not unusual.
Today, we think of a summer, spring or winter vacation as a birthright! Many children, old enough to walk, now have their own frequent flier numbers, their own roll away luggage and, of course, have already ordered hotel room service!
Between 1970-1995, air travel more than tripled from 118 billion passengers to 415 billion, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Changes in the labor force and income levels as well as the number of women working outside the home nearly doubled – from approximately 32 million to 61 million.
Did you know that the U.S. has the largest transportation system in the world, serving 260 million people and 6 million business establishments in the world? Mobility and access to economic and social opportunities are made possible by the U.S. transportation system.
Travel has changed for the better, becoming more accessible and possible for more Americans than ever, and now we passionately want to protect what has become part of our day-to-day lives.
Holiday Inns and Howard Johnson’s were two of only a handful of hotel chains in the 60’s and 70’s. At last count, there are now more than 35 hotel chains, 10 major airlines, seven major car rental companies and 5,400 airports….
In 1970, one percent off all women traveled on business. Now, fast forward 30 years. Today, between 40 and 50 percent of all business travelers in the U.S. are women. And women are taking the responsibility and privilege of traveling very seriously.
Following September 11, 2001 there were articles written in prominent business publications projecting that women would be the first to stop traveling due to fears of terrorism. On the contrary, what women tell me and I too can relate, is that no one is going to intimidate them into giving up travel. That said, I was in New York on September 11, 2001.
On that fateful day and throughout the week, unable to leave New York, I experienced the extreme anxiety of being separated from my husband and family. I do not take the opportunity of travel for granted. Travel is an investment in not only the costs of travel, but in the intellectual return we receive. And as I mentioned earlier, travel provides access to social and economic opportunities. Yes, travel can take its toll on our physical and even personal lives, but that’s where women in particular have made a difference in transforming travel for the better – for everyone.
Before women began to travel on business in great numbers, men were of course, the majority of business travelers. Before the 1990’s, there were no ironing boards, hairdryers, or coffee makers in hotel rooms. When women began traveling, they noticed what could make the travel experience better, raising the expectations of both men and women travelers.
Today, you can thank yourselves, for you are the ones who noticed small details and spoke up about them to hotel companies – now we have more comfortable beds, tastier room service meals, and yes, iron and ironing boards and hairdryers in almost every hotel room across the country. And yes, women were the ones who advised Wyndham to create a personalization program for travelers, now the very popular Wyndham ByRequest! Go to www.wyndham.com if you haven’t joined Wyndham ByRequest. It’s worth it, believe me, to have your favorite snack waiting for you when you arrive and lots of other perks that ByRequest members receive.
Travel is a billion dollar industry in the U.S. and keeping Americans and the American economy growing. The lesson I’ve learned in being part of the travel industry for more than 10 years is that we all make a difference in the outcome of the travel experience. As we protect our American dream of traveling near and far to places known and unknown, it is imperative that we understand the value of travel to the US economy, the global economy and to the intellectual component of our lives.
I’d like you to enjoy some of the travel tips that have come from “real women” who travel extensively and have won our annual Women On Their Way contests over the years. Go to www.womenontheirway.com to find out how you can enter our women business travelers contest! Each winner wins a free vacation stay for two, airfare, a wardrobe and lots of glory!