Sunday 16 June 2019

What women want - and don't get - when they're travelling

Premium economy on Air Canada Rouge, which will fly next summer to Montreal and Vancouver
Premium economy on Air Canada Rouge, which will fly next summer to Montreal and Vancouver

Business travel: Mark Evans

There's a never-ending stream of reports and commentary about women's experience in the workplace - but what about on the road?

If men really are from Mars, and women from Venus, surely their travel experiences and tastes are wildly different? Oddly, in fact, there's barely any difference between the sexes.

That's the verdict of a new report by Corporate travel management providers FCM Travel Solutions which analysed every aspect of travel - right down to whether we're spa or gym bunnies.

In most areas, men and women are remarkably alike in their likes and dislikes - whether it's hotel choice, preferred airlines or city transfers.

And they all have the same main peeves - being away can be disruptive to work, and it means spending time without loved ones.

Surprisingly, men are slightly more likely to have safety concerns in foreign countries, and moan more about cultural and food differences.

The one big concern found in the survey of FCM's corporate clients is that a mere 18pc of companies' travel policies specifically address the safety needs of female business travellers. Less than half - 44pc - have arrangements that allow them to recommend female-friendly lodging options. In this they're missing a trick, with FCM's Jo Greenfield revealing that the number of female travellers has risen "by 50pc over the past five years and nearly two-thirds of travellers today are women".

However, the one big standout issue reported by female travellers is the joylessness of being alone. Men tend to be simpler to please in this regard - and a hotel bar makes a big difference for them. Some 42pc of men report that they drink alone in the bar when abroad, compared with just 32pc of women.

And when it comes to grooming, men are more likely to use hotel irons and toiletries, and showers in airports, which either shows that men are cleaner creatures or just aren't that fussy about where they wash - and with what products.

So do men have the edge in any area? Just one, which the report buries a bit - air travel. Men are more likely to use plush airport lounges (slightly shy of a quarter of women never visit them, against just 18.5pc of men), and women are much more likely to fly at the back, with 13.5pc of men regularly flying business class, with less than 10pc of women turning left. Cue a row...

n It's nowhere near as busy as its neighbour to the south for Irish connectivity, but options are growing for regular corporate visitors to Canada.

Annual trade between the two nations stood at an impressive €2.75bn in 2016, with Irish exports growing by more than 250pc in the last five years alone. What's more, the signing of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada is tipped to boost our exports by €250m a year.

Flagship carrier Air Canada will be competing with Aer Lingus on routes to Quebec's biggest city, Montreal, next year. It'll be using Boeing 737 Max 8s (economy and premium economy classes) when the thrice-weekly service resumes next May under the Air Canada Rouge brand initially.

There's more seat capacity a month later with leased Airbus A330-200s, again with two-class service, replacing the 737s, and flying under Air Canada mainline colours.

Separately, the airline's seasonal Dublin-Vancouver service (four times a week) will kick off in May with the smaller Boeing 767 (Air Canada Rouge), to be replaced in June, again with larger A330-200s (Air Canada mainline). The thriving Pacific Coast city has been eyed in the past by Aer Lingus, along with other destinations in North America, with expansion now an annual event.

Meanwhile, rival WestJet, Canada's second-biggest airline, with 105 destinations in all, will offer better connectivity after deciding to replace its Dublin-St John service to Newfoundland - which it said wasn't performing to expectations - to Dublin-Halifax.

The advantage of the switch is better connectivity through the Nova Scotia airport, particularly to Canada's eastern cities and also the eastern US seaboard. The move follows its recent announcement that it will be flying direct three times a week from Dublin to Calgary, opening up 24 far western cities, on a service operated by the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

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