It’s estimated that women make or influence 85 percent of all purchasing decisions. Whether you’re selling a product specifically for women or a product for couples, family, or group travel, the bottom line is that, primarily, you’re selling to women.
Does your marketing plan reflect women’s concerns and interests? Maria Coesens of Sand and Flip Flop Getaways and TTM Travel finds women of the baby boomer generation are an invaluable market. “Boomers are totally different travelers than the generation before them. And the women are the ones making the decisions to go.”
Sandy Stevens of Paul Gauguin Cruises emphasized the economic power of the baby boom generation. “They’re spending over $100 billion a year on travel.” Tapping into this market of motivated, financially well-off travelers makes good business sense.
“They want to have experiences,” Stevens said. “It’s not just ‘Where did you go?’ but ‘How did it make you feel?’ There’s a whole generation of women who want to travel with their kids and grandkids. They’re finding other women to travel with, whether it’s hitting bucket list destinations like Tahiti, or taking cooking classes in Italy.” Coesens echoed this observation: “They want some substance—not just going to the beach. They want a cultural experience, possibly community service.”
Coesens notes many of her clients are widows who traveled with their husbands and don’t want to stop just because they’re single now, as well as women whose partners aren’t as interested in travel. Lenore Small, also of Sand and Flip Flop Getaways and TTM Travel, adds that some of her potential clients think they can’t travel without their husbands. “I remind them that a lot of their husbands take off to go hunting for two weeks.” And even when a woman is traveling with her husband, it’s common to learn she’s the one who did the planning for the trip.
How do you attract female clients? It’s all about building relationships. “You have to be known in a community,” said Coesens, who speaks to women’s groups about travel and hosts afternoon teas for them to discuss particular areas they’re interested in visiting. She also works with churches, chambers of commerce, and other community organizations to reach out to potential clients. Small, who finds much of her business through referrals as well as advertising at women’s gyms, such as Curves, also emphasized the importance of building relationships. “Speak with women, and find out what interests them. Address their concerns. Find out their comfort level.” Stevens added, “They want to have a relationship with their agent—someone they can trust.”
How to build that relationship? “Ask a lot of questions,” Stevens advises. “Ask about past experiences—what they enjoyed and didn’t.” Stevens cautioned against upselling, unless you’re sure it’s what a client wants. “It’s a lot of qualifying. Make sure they’ll think it’s worth it.” That doesn’t mean focusing on offering the lowest cost. “They may have been saving for the trip of a lifetime. Get past your own pocketbook, and give clients a number. You can move it up or down.
“The price is not how you reach a woman—it’s trust that you’re doing what’s best for them. It’s so personal for them.”
According to Booking.com, 65% of U.S. women are taking vacations without a partner. Here are some tips for setting your solo female travelers at ease:
• Expect that a solo traveler will have more questions. After all, she doesn’t have a spouse or partner who is listening to the details, too.
• If your solo traveler will be traveling “alone, together” (aka joining up with a group of people she hasn’t met before), share photos of the group members in advance so they will recognize each other at the airport. Share names (with permission) and social media links, so travelers can get to know each other a bit before the trip.
• For solo travelers in a group, provide an activity that will help them to get to know each other at the beginning of the trip. A cooking lesson, volunteer work, or a physical activity will help the group bond.
• Create a community of women travelers by establishing a common theme that draws them to your trip. “Adventurous Widows,” “Women in Business,” and other themes will help create a group with something in common.
Written by Amy Charles.