Updated: Jan 8
The unquenching thirst to see the unseen and know the unknown is a predominant trait in all human beings, with women being no exception. However, a peek into the past decades indicates that Indian women primarily travelled with family or close relatives. But, breaking these age-old shackles, a new trend has emerged in India in recent times – woman-only travel packages – designed by woman, led by woman and for woman.
Factors shaping consumer demand:
The growing economic independency has empowered women to venture out of their comfort zones, independent of the male members of the family. Supported by changes in societal norms and shedding away fears and anxieties, women are embracing the idea to travel in the company of their own kind, exploring never-seen-before destinations, and experiencing opportunities for bonding, learning and transformational growth. Women coming from all walks of life – housewives, corporate professionals, businesswomen, and even students – are willing to go on a journey of self-discovery, traversing through quaint villages to big cities and snowy mountains to serene beaches.
To escape the mundane daily life, Indian women are always on the lookout for liberating escapades, without compromising on the safety and security aspects. With these female centric expeditions, women can come solo and get paired up with other like-minded travelers, forming an inspirational sisterhood through shared journey. These carefully and meticulously planned trips not only eliminate the risks associated with solo travel, but also allows travelers to interact with people from across the country and among various age brackets.
This trend of Indian women getting together and travelling is on the rise on the popularity charts and bolstered by a multitude of factors including birthday celebrations, bachelorette parties, personal and professional milestones, and many more. The willingness to experiment with offbeat locations and adventure sports have prompted Indian women to cross international boundaries as well and head towards less ventured places in Eastern Europe, South America and Russia. Apart from partaking in various adventurous activities such as trekking, camping, snorkeling, rafting and wildlife safaris, there is a burgeoning demand for guided local shopping tours, vocational workshops, spiritual sojourns and visits to spas or wellness centers.
Another important consumer base for these trips comprises of women who mix their business travels and mini holidays. Bloggers, writers and photographers join these group tours to collect and document fellow travelers’ experiences, perspectives and stories.
The rapid surge of women-only hotels catering exclusively to female tourists is another encouraging factor for women vacationers. In Kerala, the KTDC operates a women-only hotel, named ‘Hostess’, that is managed by women with the aim to serve female travelers.
Diversified preferences of consumers:
Global pandemic crisis has served as a wake-up call in many aspects and has fueled a stronger interest among women to seize opportunities to fulfill the bucket-list travel dreams. With normalcy setting back in, the number of Indian women travelers setting out for leisure, wellness, luxury and adventure trips are likely to increase multifold. JourneyWomen’s 2021 research indicates that post-pandemic, women are interested in travelling for longer periods of time and with a group, under a professional tour operator.
To make these trips more fulfilling and stress-free, operators can offer custom designed tour plans considering the requirements of the vacationers. Activities such as sampling the local cuisine, visiting the hidden gems or not so popular spots within the destination, checking out the local shopping centers, going for wineries and attending local music or cultural festivals makes vacations more appealing and attractive.
Women on Wanderlust (WOW Club), founded by Sumitra Senapaty, is a pioneer for women travelling phenomenon in India, and mostly emphasizes on creating unconventional outings such as dining with a Vietnamese family, tasting the finest Bordeaux in Bordeaux, enjoying soothing Sufi music in Jodhpur and dancing Tango in Argentina.
In today’s times, women are putting travel on a priority chart and are dedicating time and money to explore different types of holidays. One such emerging trend within female focused travel is that of cruise ships. Another interesting traction within female wanderlusts is the inclination towards alternative accommodation, where women move away from traditional stays at hotels, and instead opt for eco-friendly lodges, igloos, castles, homestays and youth hostels.
It has also been observed that women are showing a greater interest in uplifting numerous social causes and contributing to the well-being of the society. They prefer to travel to remote areas of the country to extend their support and help in whatever way possible. This provides an excellent opportunity for female operators to plan tailor-made tours that are directed towards purpose-driven and humanitarian excursions involving activities like educating local women and children, and aiding in organizing local farmers’ or handicraft market.
The future looks promising:
These female-centric tours are also instrumental in creating scope for women employment and benefitting local economies. Rendering tour and travel service fulfills the entrepreneurial aspirations of Indian women as well. Vidya Deshpande, gave up her journalistic career, to launch ‘Soul Purpose’ - a travel group that organizes trips around activities such as bird watching, diving, wildlife safaris, culinary fiestas, photography and history and culture trails.
In the words of the people who have been on these trips, the experience can be deeply inspirational, educative, and life-changing. Sharing a journey with an all-supportive female community and exposure to new and innovative experiences promotes self-confidence, deeper-awareness, and inner strength. In addition to life-time memories, these trips provide guests with a sense of connection, empowerment and resiliency.
The forecast for women-only group travel is phenomenal growth, boosted by enhanced services and untapped destination options. With accelerating demand, tour operators, traditionally catering to couples and families are also making an entry into this segment considering its potential high-value growth curve and niche business structure.