The internet entered our life in a suit; complete with a tie, top hat and waistcoat, and appearing as though it would be very comfortable on Wall Street.
Some might say that the travel industry had a very similar appearance for many years, but now the two worlds have collided online and the picture is very different.
Women are not only moving in online, they’re taking a front row seat. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the realms of online travel. The fairer sex is now the primary decision maker when it comes to selecting, planning and booking travel online.
Jasmine Lim, content director for travel metasearch site Wego.com, said “women are definitely in the driving seat as the travel decision maker.”
No stranger herself to the online travel market with more than 10 years of product marketing experience in the area, Lim was a pioneer member of the ZUJI team and has led development efforts across the Asia Pacific before joining Wego early in 2010.
“We’ve seen an enormous uptake of female users of Wego’s travel search facilities. Around 47% of users between the ages of 18 ”“ 54 are women, which just shows that it’s definitely the ladies who are the key decision makers when it comes to travel,” she said.
Wego’s female users totalled 51% against a market average in South East Asia of 40%. The company’s database shows that almost all of their female audience rated higher than the market average for the region.
“We know that these are not only single women, either with 41% who have at least one child and 13% with three children, again all higher than the regional market average,” Lim observed.
“Our studies revealed that women today are early adopters; more likely to take risks and to try new things, They are a little more health and fashion conscious, and appear to engage freely in impulse shopping.”
As early adopters, women who booked through Wego.com more than doubled the SEA’s market average, at 23%, compared to the regional score of 9%.
“You will probably see increasing content targeted to the female segment, which is already happening now. Travel suppliers will continue to be creative on this front and probably more social in engaging this customer segment.”
Lim said today women are on the move more than ever before for either business or pleasure, which sees them accessing travel sites via mobile devices and making travel decisions faster than usual.
Some of this movement can be attributed to the “Eat, Pray, Love” phenomenon. which has inadvertently encouraged women of all ages to undertake personal journeys, quite often alone or with other women.
“Instead of the obvious shopping, dining and spa holidays travelling has become more of a personal discovery for women and they’re more likely to seek off-the- beaten track destinations while picking up a painting class, cooking classes, wine appreciation and other more immersive experiences,” explained Lim.
“I do see an increasing trend of women attending Yoga retreats alone, especially in exotic destinations like India.”
Lim is certain the travel industry will see more trips per household in the future due to women taking control of the travel purse strings, and also a likelihood of a divergence of travel products from the mainstream.
“In Asia there are more types of accommodation such as villas and apartments which are relatively cheap in comparison to hotel rooms that women see the value in sharing either in a group of other women, or for the family.”
She noted, “To me, women are value-hunters by nature. You will see more females travelling but this will not necessary burn a hole in the household budget.”
It appears that the somewhat masculine nature of the online world, particularly when it comes to travel, is adding some lip gloss and taking control of more than who packs the luggage.
“Women will continue to be travel decision makers for a long time,” Lim concluded.
This article appeared in Web In Travel, April 2012