Female corporate employees book flight tickets for business trips two days in advance than male employees – saving an average of $17.30 (Rs 1160) per ticket, reveals a recent study “Gender differences in booking business travel”, which explores corporate travel habits of men and women in organisations across the world.
Carried out by a team of researchers from Ohio State University, Arizona State University and Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), the research covered 6.4 million air booking transactions by 1.8 million travellers, of which 0.54 million were women (30%). The research sample was limited to round-trips on CWT routes with more than 100 tickets.
For each transaction, the following parameters were considered for analysis – Origin-destination airport pair, issuing country, class of service, week of the year, length of stay, advance booking, ticket price.
Factors affecting booking patterns
The study observed that advance booking by employees depends on three major factors:
Meeting lead time: It is the meeting date which is finalized once the decision to meet in person is taken, which can be anywhere from a few days to months, based on the location and meeting urgency.
Traveler’s habits: It is the characteristic of a traveler to book early. For urgent trips (with less lead times), this factor’s significant comes down.
Corporate policies: The time required to obtain the necessary approvals and do the booking using the company’s reservation channels.
Behavioural characteristics of women can be a major factor as some interactions with corporate employees revealed.
“Based on my experience, women go by corporate policies and channels more rigorously than men and also are faster in closing their travel related expense reports than most men who keep it on the back burner,” said Arunanshu Pal, Associate Director, Capgemini India, who is currently deputed in Texas, US for client work.
Proper planning can save money
Women pay $113.80 (Rs 7624) less for flight tickets than their male counterparts, if a simple subtraction of ticket prices is done. However, the actual difference is $17.30 (Rs 1160) -– 2% of the ticket price approximately -– which was obtained through a statistical analysis (multi-linear regression) of data focusing on factors such as routes, class usage and period of travel.
The study further estimated the average cost savings of a company having 1000 travellers, assuming same booking behaviour by women and men. At 70:30 male-female ratio as mentioned above, there will be 700 male travellers, undertaking an average of four trips per year – 2,800 trips overall. Assuming the average ticket saving of $17.30 (Rs 1160), it would save $48,000 (Rs 32.16 lakh) per year and cross $1 million (Rs 6.7 crore) for a traveler base of 21,000.
Women also are more likely than men to send a family member their itinerary to ensure people know where they are on business trips
Then again, consideration of saving costs for the company may not necessarily be a criterion in many corporate firms.
“Though project teams know of their travel plans well in advance apart from exceptions, but considering companies reimburse it, there’s a little less hurry too book tickets with the intention of saving costs,” said Aakriti Gupta, a consultant with FSG India, a social sector consulting firm.
“I usually book last minute if I am not 100% sure of my plan and I like the flexibility of moving my plans around,” she added.
Monica Jasuja, Head of Masterpass and E-commerce, Mastercard India & South Asia, believes differently.
“Women are more organized and disciplined in general, more cost conscious and believe that money saved is money earned. I always book tickets in advance unless it’s an urgent business priority when I book very late, am much better organized and prepared always” said Jasuja.
Advance booking improves with age
Women book earlier than men in all age categories, the study observed.
Additionally, advance booking improves with age. As the age increases from 30 to 70, the advance booking increases by five days for both genders. However, as trips become more frequent, advanced booking decreases, which is partly explained by the increased percentage of short-haul trips taken (60% to 73%) and by the lower time available to book the tickets. In the high-frequency regime of over two trips per month, however, the gender gap in advanced booking becomes negligible.
Women are more organized and disciplined in general, more cost conscious and believe that money saved is money earned – Monica Jasuja
Responding to the study’s findings, Ahana Sood, an Associate with David and Lucile Packard Foundation, a philanthropic organisation, who travels at least twice a month said, “That could be largely because women are generally more planned and prepared about anything this irrespective of their workplace travel policies. I am personally a front row window person and if I can get a seat I prefer, it is great as it ensures that I am comfortably productive on work travel”.
In 2012, a behavioural survey of business travellers was conducted by market research firm TNS for Marriott’s Fairfield Inn & Suites. The survey reported significant gender differences which may provide some correlations and perspectives on the findings by CWT:
- Men “are significantly more likely than women to feel confident and calm” when preparing for a business trip, while women “are more likely to feel stressed and nervous”
- Women are more likely than men “to prioritise taking care of matters at home” after hearing about an upcoming business trip
- Women say packing is their first task, while men say booking a hotel is. Women also are more likely than men to send a family member their itinerary to ensure people know where they are on business trips