Neu-Isenburg, 3 December 2020
Female travelers down from 19 percent to 12 in Germany / similar trend noted in other European markets
The coronavirus crisis has not only massively reduced the number of business trips taken, it has also had a noticeable impact on the gender makeup of those who do travel. Over the past few months, business travel has once again become a man’s world. Specialized payment company AirPlus International reached this conclusion after analyzing 300,000 flight bookings in January and October 2020. The Lufthansa subsidiary considered companies in Germany, France, Italy, and the UK.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, about one in five business travelers was female. The AirPlus analysis puts the figure for January 2020 at 18.6 percent, a share that had been rising slowly but steadily in previous years. The pandemic drove that figure down, however: In October, women made up only 12.1 percent of all business travelers. In other words, there is only one female business traveler for every eight male ones right now.
Women do more work in the household and are less likely to work in industries where travel is still occurring
There are various interconnected factors driving the decline. “First, we see that certain occupational groups travel more than others because they have to be physically on site to do their work,” explains AirPlus Marketing Manager Yaël Klein. These groups include installation technicians and field engineers, positions predominantly held by men. “Second, it is clear that some industries travel more than others,” Klein continues. Energy industry companies tend to have more business trips than software providers, for example. But it is also obvious that women are more likely to stay home to keep family life and childcare running during the pandemic. “The return to traditional patterns was evident very early on, when the first schools closed. Even after the schools reopened, there hasn’t been much change there,” Klein notes.
Low percentages for women in Italy and the UK as well
Comparing Germany to other European countries is also interesting. The UK saw an even sharper decrease in the percentage of business travelers who are female. Before the start of the pandemic, women accounted for 24.5 percent of travelers there, a figure that plunged in October to 13.6 percent. The negative trend is less pronounced in France, which had almost the same percentage as the UK at the start of the year. Here the proportion of women was 17.4 percent in October. Bringing up the rear in this international comparison is Italy – a country with a traditionally low percentage of women travelers. From 17.5 percent before the pandemic, the figure has dropped to just one in ten travelers (10.7 percent) today. Greater emphasis on traditional gender roles is viewed as one of the reasons.
While the sharp decrease in the percentage of women among business travelers in Italy comes as little surprise to experts, the divergence in the trends in France and the UK is noteworthy. “Our observations suggest that differences in how rules on reduced working hours were applied are one factor, as are different approaches to closing schools and offices,” Klein explains. She stresses that the data do indicate patterns of behavior, but there are no detailed explanations. The important point is to make sure the trend reverses once the pandemic is over and business travel goes back to normal. Business travel should no longer be dominated by men to such a great extent at that point, Klein says. “Business travel is especially important for interpersonal communications between people and companies. That shouldn’t be reserved for just one gender.”
About AirPlus International:
AirPlus International is a leading international provider of solutions in the corporate payment segment. 48,000 corporate customers rely on AirPlus when it comes to paying for and analyzing their business travel and other purchasing activities. The company’s products and services are marketed worldwide under the AirPlus International brand. AirPlus is an issuer under the UATP, Visa, and Mastercard card schemes. The AirPlus company account is the most successful billing account within the UATP. For more information, visit www.airplus.com.
Contact AirPlus International:
Phone: +49(0)6102 204-6350