Gender differences in booking business travel

Advance booking behavior and associated financial impact
April 2016

As travel becomes more personalized, there is an increasing need to understand how travel preferences and behaviors vary from one traveler type to another. Traveler groups such as millennials (Generation Y) or road warriors (frequent travelers) are often under the spotlight, especially in connection with their technology use and productivity on the go. In this paper we investigate gender differences in booking business travel.

The research is based on a set of 6.4 million air booking transactions from around the world recorded by Carlson Wagonlit Travel in 2014. The traveler population responsible for these bookings amounts to 1.8 million people, of whom 30% are women. We studied the advance purchasing behavior, producing the following conclusions:

  • Female travelers book earlier than their male counterparts, on average. A like-for-like comparison shows a difference of 1.9 advance booking days between the two genders.
  • As traveler age increases, so does the advance booking; between 30 and 70 years of age, the advance booking increases by roughly 5 days for both genders.
  • As employee’s travel frequency - number of business trips per year - increases, the advance booking decreases. The gender gap is largest at the low frequency end (1 or 2 trips per year) and virtually disappears in the highest-frequency group.


Furthermore, we quantified the financial impact arising from this gap. By comparing the ticket prices paid by men and women for the same routes and under the same travel conditions, we measure a difference of $17, representing approximately 2% of the average ticket price. For large companies, this gap has the potential to generate significant savings.


This research introduces an advanced approach to studying traveler segments. The large dataset and rigorous statistical technique allow us to detect and measure differences in the advance purchasing behavior of male and female travelers. Beyond gender and advance booking, this method can be extended to other types of traveler segmentation and other areas of travel management.


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This report was produced by CWT Solutions Group in collaboration with Dr. J. Donna (Ohio State University) and Dr. G. Veramendi (Arizona State University).