Wander women discover Thailand


A recent TripAdvisor survey confirmed what we had always suspected about travel; Asian women call the shots.

The good news is they have decided Thailand is one of three top destinations they intend to visit this year.

The other two are Japan and Australia.

International Women’s Days was celebrated last March and to mark the occasion TripAdvisor released details of a travel survey that highlighted how Asian women plan their holidays.  It involved 2,800 respondents in seven Asian nations; Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India, China, India and Japan.

Unquestionably it showed the powerful role women play in booking and buying travel. The survey indicated that 50% made all the decisions compared to 46% that said they involved their life partners in the process.

But once it was time to pay trips, 83% of the respondents said they contributed financially to their last personal trip; of which 27% said they funded the entire holiday including for their travel companions. Just 32% shared the cost with their spouse or partner.

The payment trending is significant, but so is the fact that women have tipped the scale and are now the majority in many travel segments.

There is much more to women travel than the just holding the credit card that pays for family travel. They travel in their own right. They are business travellers and are a powerful player in the solo travel trend.

Inevitably solo travel crafted tags such as ‘wander woman’ that in turn gave birth to online travel firms that specialise in travel just for women.

The US adventure travel giant, Intrepid Travel, said in a 2014 assessment of the solo female travel market that 63% of 100,000 bookings were women driven.

A booking.com assessment reported by the US Adventure Travel Trade Association claimed more than half of women interviewed said they were “more likely to travel solo now than five years ago.”

The latest TripAdvisor survey points to the same growing importance of the wandering solo female traveller.

Of the Asian respondents, who travelled solo on their last trip, 73% of respondents said it gave them a sense of freedom, 43% said going alone made for a less stressful travel experience and 34% said they liked the challenge of stepping out of their comfort zone.

Women in Japan are the most independent with one in five (20%) reporting they travelled alone on their last trip.

Safety was top-of-mind for Asian solo female travellers with 69% avoiding late-night spots, quiet streets (56%) and wearing expensive items (37%).

The top three destinations Asian female travellers are planning to visit in 2016 are all within the Asia Pacific region; Japan, Thailand and Australia.

Commenting on the sole female travel market, Diethelm Travel Group’s managing director, Lisa Fitzell, who is based in Bangkok, confirmed the company was creating more tours that offer single travel supplements.

“I think the world is getting faster and everything is so instant, so there is a rise in burnout and stress related problems, and people just need time out, traveling by yourself gives you the freedom to find yourself again.”

She points to a rise in wellness travel, health spas in Thailand that appeal to women.

“Females tend to be more comfortable traveling in groups or with other people on their own, hence the rise of more tours with opportunities to share with another single passenger and the wellness retreats allow females to feel safe and meet other people.”

According to a study by Amadeus, a global travel technology group, the number of trips female business travellers make in the Asia-Pacific region will increase 400% by 2030.

That compares with 4.5 million trips made by women from Singapore, South Korea, Japan, India, China, Indonesia and Australia, assessed in the company’s 2012 survey.

Amadeus noted that travel providers needed to focus on serving these new business travellers by addressing safety issues, but they also needed to make adjustments to how they communicate with women.

“Women use different processes than men to make travel decisions, for example greater reliance on peer recommendations or advice,” said Amadeus Asia Pacific vice president corporate & marketing communications, Karun Budhraja. “Responding to this will be critical for travel providers to win over the female traveller.”

Thailand’s preferred spot, as one of three top destinations, Asian female travellers intend to visit in 2016, is based on compelling assets according to the TripAdvisor survey.

The factors guiding their travel intentions were ‘nature’ (65%), ‘good food and restaurants’ (61%) and ‘arts, history and cultural attractions’ (56%).

Beaches and island scored high at 48%, while just 30% of the respondents said shopping was an influencing factor.

Thailand scores high on all elements, having magnificent heritage attractions, beaches and islands that figure on Asia’s top 10 charts and an amazing opportunity to explore street food culture, or seek out gourmet dining.

However, the country’s travel and service providers need to respond to solo travel trending, by creating a positive environment for female travellers reflected in the products and services they offer.

It could lead to the emergence of inbound travel enterprises that specialise exclusively in serving the female travel market. This would raise quality and service relevance, while enhancing Thailand’s position as Asia’s premier destination for the World’s wander women.