As female-led tour options increase, Qin Xie asks expert operators for their selling advice
Women-led tours have become a huge growth sector over the past few years. Responsible Travel, for example, saw a 345% increase in bookings for such tours in 2022, compared with 2021, and a 53% increase over the past five years. Here’s how to showcase what female-led itineraries can offer.
1. Highlight the positive social impact
Women-led tours can have a direct impact on the local economy. “In the countries we visit on our Women’s Expeditions, such as Morocco, India and Jordan, women are often still dependent on their partners or families,” says Intrepid’s general manager of global product, Erica Kritikides.
“Travelling with a local female leader and visiting women-owned businesses helps money go directly to supporting them and can give them financial independence for the first time. This means not only a brighter future for them but their families too.”
It’s particularly important after the pandemic, with various reports, including analysis by the UN, showing that women were disproportionately affected by Covid-19.
2. Sell the unique insights to be gained in the destinations
“There are countries where having a female guide is still rare, but you’ll gain insights into daily life and culture that you otherwise wouldn’t,” Tim Williamson, customer director at Responsible Travel, explains. “We often experience destinations through a male gaze, whereas women-led trips can offer an alternative narrative and a richer, fuller picture of a destination.”
3. Showcase exclusive access
In the case of women-led, women-only tours, unfettered access to female-only spaces can make the trip hugely rewarding from a cultural point of view. For example, Intrepid’s tours take full advantage of this by including travel in a women-only carriage on India’s metro system or visiting an all-female monastery run by Buddhist nuns.
On Insight Vacations’ women-only tour of Iceland, guests meet the female founder of one of the country’s first microbreweries and one of the few female glacier guides.
4. Recommend these trips to solo travellers
Women-led tours are great for solo travellers, in particular women travelling to destinations where they may not feel comfortable on their own. Safety aside, these small-group tours offer an inclusive dynamic for likeminded people to bond over a trip.
“Many clients keep in touch long after the holiday and plan subsequent ones together,” says Ramblers Walking Holidays product manager Amber Parish-Smith.
5. Highlight the benefits for everyone
It’s worth noting that women-led tours don’t necessarily mean women-only. Tours vary from operator to operator and while many do cater for an exclusively female clientele, others are open to everyone. This means travellers can still benefit from the advantages of a female-led tour while travelling in a mixed group.