Perhaps, having a knack for a good time, you’ve already Googled business travel women. What comes up is what you’d gloomily expect: a mix of packing tips, wardrobe counsel and vague empowerment mantras. Now swap out women for men. In lieu of affirmations and folding techniques you get a string of articles such as “Business Travel and Infidelity.” The moral here is probably just don’t Google things.
Or maybe it’s something like this: Our thinking on work and travel and gender is stuck in a Michael Douglas movie from the ’80s, while reality has pushed forward into, well, late 2012. (The government’s own Bureau of Transportation Statistics still cites a decade-old study showing women to represent less than a quarter of all business travel. But most estimates put women closer to 40 or 50 percent of the market.) Either ladies are going to have to ramp up their dalliances, or the tenor of business travel might have to shift a bit.
It probably already has. Hotels, of course, have awakened to the fact that female executives are no longer an exotic species. According to a piece in Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge, some Holiday Inn Express consumer research revealed that, while men have no beef with the hotels’ bathrooms, women considered the towel department lacking. The chain’s response? “Larger, white (with the sense of clean), fluffier, more absorbent towels.”
I love when institutions finally figure out the world is changing, if only for the pleasing image of them frantically ordering 10,000 fluffier towels. I also love the oddly specific little studies that invariably accompany industry ferment. One from several years ago analyzed 43 attributes used in restaurant selection. The finding: female travelers consider things like health issues and information to be more important than male travelers do.
I don’t know what any of this means, any more than I could list more than, say, two attributes that go into my restaurant selection. (Is it open? Is there a roof?) But if the sex that brought us “Eternal Flame” and childbirth ends up nudging business travel in some new direction, I’d be curious to see it.
Chris Colin is the award-winning author of “Blindsight,” published by the Atavist and named one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2011. See his work at www.chriscolin.com.Tags: Downtime,Lifestyle