The opportunities for women today have come a long way since I got out of graduate school and started a corporate career.
The glass ceiling has been broken, and women have moved into top management positions and the career choices are many. We have women running many Fortune 500 companies in various professions with substantial salary scales and bonuses.
Married women are able to run a home, family, career, and pay for help along the way. The hardest thing I found was to have a good balance and not let your career take all of your time. Not being able to balance your time plays a big part in many divorces today. It is a difficult thing to manage, no matter what your age is or in what profession. I always said that for a woman in top management, it was like swimming with sharks.
I had one vice president reporting to me at a Fortune 500 company who told me she was an accomplished housekeeper. I thought, "she does housework to get rid of stress." I found out she had been married seven times and each time she kept the house. Several months later I was home in England and took my Mum to church. When we got to the door to shake hands with the vicar, he said “you must be the daughter from California. We did enjoy the story of the accomplished housekeeper." My Mum apparently told half the parish.
What does a woman want when traveling in the corporate arena?
- A hotel in a safe central location
- Hair, nail salon
- 24-hour room service
- iPod dock in room
- Wireless internet – in room
- iPod and wireless internet in hotel public places
- A room on a lower floor, near to the elevator
- State of the art, high-tech facilities
- A business center for help when needed
- Transfers to and from the airport, especially overseas
- A reliable car rental firm when necessary
- Travel insurance
- Restaurants nearby, with local flavor
- A good concierge – ideas for close by tourist attractions, obtaining theater reservations, maps, etc.
NEVER book a room at a hotel or motel with an outside corridor, or rooms with access to people walking by, and no security.
Most important, she needs a good travel professional who is a destination specialist who can make travel as easy as possible, give her a list of restaurants, shops, museums, theaters, in case there is any spare time.
One very important piece of advice I give everyone is to plan ahead. You should fly to the destination a day or two ahead of the important meeting. There is nothing worse than being tired from jet lag and not being as alert as you should be in negotiations, especially with people using different accents so you have to listen carefully. I am amazed at the women who arrive in Europe at 6.30 a.m. then go into a meeting later that morning.
It is a proven fact that people are more productive if they take vacations, and they are in better health. Everyone needs a break from the stresses of modern life. In many parts of the world people get six to eight weeks vacation and they take them. I have always thought that America is behind the times with only two or three weeks. I used to have a policy in my corporate position as Vice President of Administration for a Fortune 500 company, that you must use your vacation time, or lose it. I felt this encouraged people to get away. Even if you enjoy your job, your brain needs a rest.
The opportunities for leisure travel destinations are endless. Where does your fancy or your budget want to take you? If I am dealing with a single woman, then I recommend a small group. It is far more enjoyable to be with people of perhaps similar interests, and we deal with several excellent companies who have journeys to many foreign lands just for women travelers.
I have led many groups of women and they come from all walks of life, and many ages. Some have remained friends and travel together on other trips. I have taken groups to everywhere from the Outback of Australia, to the New Mexico Balloon Festival, antique markets and shopping in London, skiing in Italy, and hiking in New Zealand. People may want Enrichment Journeys where they will learn something, perhaps food and wine, cooking classes in Italy, wine appreciation, or learn the tango in Argentina. I have often joked that I can't guarantee they will find a nice “bloke” (British slang for man) on one of my trips.
I’ve found that many women who are wearing suits all week when it comes to vacations they like to be casual, and avoid the glitz. The Number One thing women like to do on a recent survey we conducted was shop. In foreign parts, we head for the local markets to find some bargains. I took a mixed group to Italy on a Mediterranean cruise and every time we reached a port, the ladies followed me to buy shoes and handbags.
Some of the modern-day adventure explorer cruises with emphasis on nature, marine biology, off the beaten path like the Galapagos, Antarctic, are also popular. Women want to visit places of historical value, explore their roots, or go to a resort to enjoy the beach.
Technology today makes life easier. It is possible for people to stay connected with Facebook and Twitter and text messaging. Whatever the future holds, modern technology will make our lives easier.
Maureen is President of All Horizons Travel at 160 Main Street. Members of her staff are experts in business travel, cruises, and all types of leisure.