Corporate women talking

Safeguarding your female and LGBTQ travellers

If you're sending your diverse travellers on business travel are you certain that you are supporting them personally and adhering to your legal, duty of care obligations? Do your female and LGBTQ travellers understand the legal, cultural or even religious restrictions that might face them in the countries that they are travelling to? Do they look forward to their business trips, or find the whole experience stressful and isolating? The Maiden Voyage Corporate solutions allow you to be certain that you are doing all that you can to support your diverse and inexperienced traveller

Is diverse traveller Duty of Care, Diversity, Employee Corporate Social Responsibility or Attracting Female Talent important to you and your organisation?  

The Maiden Voyage solutions help you to support and safeguard your female and LGBTQ business travellers.  Whether it's navigating the path to providing the right advice in a non-patronising  and non-discriminatory way, providing a platform through which your female travelling workforce can connect or source safe, 'female-friendly' hotels, finding the right training, workshops or eLearning, our solutions are tailored to match the profile of your individual travellers and where they travel to.

Aside from the legal obligation to prepare your business travellers for a safe trip, the moral obligation and commitment to CSR shows your future and current staff that you care.

With a range of solutions to match any organisations travel profile or budget we feel confident that we will have the right fit for you:

For classroom training and tailored workshops click here:

For eLearning click here:

For Corporate Membership click here:

For our Traveller Wellbeing Webinar Series, click here:

If you would like us to talk to your organisation about all the benefits of corporate or group membership and how we can integrate with your Corporate Travel Systems please email us at or complete the form below:



Woman with hand on her shoulder

Traveller Safety and Employer Duty of Care

We recently unveiled the results of our latest research at the Quaynote Duty of Care Conference- protecting workers travelling overseas, in London.   

In preparation for the conference we conducted independent research into the issues faced by women travellers and what their employers are doing to ensure their safety when travelling on business.  As part of the research we interviewed kidnap & ransom experts, Insurers, the Metropolitan and British Transport Police, hoteliers, market leaders in travel risk management, employment lawyers, employers and of course many of our members, women who travel frequently on business.

We also ran a survey to get feedback from women travellers, with quite startling findings:

31%  said their employer didn't adequately take care of them

Only 5% had received female business traveller safety training 

When asked if they had ever suffered an adverse situation when travelling on business such as theft, robbery, physical assault, sexual harassment, or attack, kidnap, attempted kidnap, intruder in your hotel room etc

A staggering 24% said yes.

And whilst a number of these took place in locations such as Egypt, Karachi, Lahore, Nairobi, Beijing and Johannesburg, cities that are deemed potentially more safe, such as Dublin, Southampton and Zurich, were also cited as cities where travel problems had occurred.

When asked where they felt the most vulnerable, 67% said they were uncomfortable on public transport and the same for walking about in a strange city. 55% of respondents said they didn’t feel safe alone in a cab and 51% of women felt vulnerable during a hotel stay alone, with one woman even feeling the need to supplement her hotel costs with her own money to afford a safer place to stay.

Why this is important for employers

Aside from an employer’s obligation of a duty of care to employees if the worst happens, companies can find themselves liable for a claim for damages or indeed corporate manslaughter.

But on a more general level, we all know that a diverse workforce leads to greater organisational success.

If not managed properly, business travel related stress and anxiety induced absence can present significant cost to an organisation

The last thing an organisation needs is to be in a position whereby women can't physically perform the same task as men because it's not safe for them to travel or worse they don't even apply to work with an organisation they don't want to travel for due to their poor reputation of employee safety.

But what about Gender equality?

You are probably asking yourself if it’s appropriate to have gender specific travel policies.  Whilst it may be unnecessary for any group to have a full-blown travel policy we do believe that there should be specific clauses pertaining to different groups, be it women, LGBT’s, expats and trailing spouses.

Woman in AlleyThere is the obvious risk of women being more prone to sexual attack or harassment but we are also often less physically strong than our male counterparts which by nature attracts gentlemen, well-meaning or otherwise to offer assistance with our heavy bags. We are hardwired to be polite and this can easily get lead us into hot water. It’s important to remember that manners should come second to personal safety.

Drink spiking doesn’t just happen in nightclubs at 2am, any drink can be spiked at any time of the day.

Handbag theft is prevalent and could lead to loss of our travel documents and communications devices leaving us at further risk.

The good news is that women are often thinking and planning ahead because of safety concerns, which means we are constantly on our guard when travelling.

Generic travel advice leaves out important considerations for women travellers

Some restrictions are legal, whilst others are cultural

  • e.g. local dress codes
  • It’s illegal for a woman to drive in Saudi Arabia
  • Travelling with a man who is not her husband can lead to her arrest
  • Until recently,  women faced the risk of being de-robed for wearing trousers in Malawi
  • Initiating a handshake or making eye contact could be misinterpreted as flirtatious  or indeed deeply offensive in the Arabian Gulf
  • Reporting a sexual assault in UAE could result in a woman being at risk of being charged with unlawful sex
  • Inadvertently taking a copy of Cosmopolitan Magazine into Iran could land her with a sentence of lashings

 Here are some of the tips we shared to enable women to protect themselves when travelling alone. 

  • Pre-planning. Research the region you are travelling to from a female perspective
  • Wear a wedding ring where  appropriate
  • Understand local dress codes, does your company need to stock and supply an abaya for example.
  • Use a female friendly hotel and only use hotels where there are two independent locks that cannot be overridden with a master key
  • Make sure drivers have corresponding paperwork, not just  easy copiable name plates
  • Undertake a female traveller safety training programme 

The predominantly male audience found the female specific issues to be both enlightening and interesting. For many there was a visible sigh of relief.  Many felt that they should indeed be doing something extra for their female travellers but were nervous of being deemed sexist, patronising or were simply too shy or embarrassed to talk about “sex”. 

Sharing these findings and advice is not to be restrictive but to empower, inform and liberate women to travel on business safely.

Our female business traveller safety survey remains open if you wish to participate please click here.

Read more about our Female Business Traveller Safety Training.

Certified female friendly

What makes a hotel female friendly?

We take the role of recommending female friendly hotels very seriously.   Hotels that make it onto our list of approved hotels have undergone a stringent inspection to make sure that they not only meet essential safety criteria, such as adequate door locks and 24x7 manned receptions but also that the room is fitted out to make your stay as comfortable as possible with sensitive customer service to match.

When staying in a hotel, the staff know not to announce your room number, whether that be at check-in or in the restaurant, they are sensitive to the location of your room (not at the end of a long corridor or on the ground floor) and thought will be given to where you are seated when dining.

How many times haHairdryerveCoathangers you tried to hang your dress in the bathroom only to find that the hangers don't actually come out of the wardrobe, or have you risked losing the circulation in your finger from holding in the button on a hairdryer that does little but make a noise?   With years of experience of our own business travels and ongoing member feedback, we have created a brand standard to ensure that hotels that come on to not only understand the needs of a female business traveller, they actually want to encourage you to stay, return and recommend them to your colleagues.

Check out our growing list of recommended female friendly hotels

Share your favourite hotels with us

Request details of our hotel inspection app so that you can feedback your own personal comments on your hotel stays


Room Service

Women Really Want ... From Inflight Catering

We recently ran some indepndent resarch alongside (dedicated to highlighting pre order and buy on board airline meals) professional women around the world to find out you really wanted from airline meals.

Let’s face it airline meals seems to always get a bad rap and everyone who has ever travelled on an aircraft will have an airline horror meal story. But what if you’re a female traveller? Is the inflight meal experience different for women who travel regularly for business? Apparently so according to our survey results…

Over 100 women (who travel regularly for business or pleasure) were surveyed  in relation to their inflight eating habits, special meal requirements, purchasing habits and their favourite airline meals.

Of the women surveyed 76% stated that meals were either too heavy in carbohydrates or suited more so to male consumers. What about those women who travel on low cost or airlines who do not offer free food? Only 20% said that they purchase something on board an aircraft and over 40% of women stated that they pre-plan their meals for their flight. This is a huge opportunity for airlines to improve their buy on board offering further.

It's clear that female business travellers are typically are more diet conscious than ever.  They are more likely to buy a healthy snack before boarding a flight because they cannot be sure what will be on offer on-board.  Airlines could increase their inflight revenues by ensuring that they offer healthy options but also make their passengers aware before they shop elsewhere.

Nikos Loukas from Inflight Feed told us that  “Airlines tend to look at passenger demographics on each route in order to work out what will be offered on their buy on board menus, unfortunately in many cases carbohydrate heavy options and unhealthy snacks tend to win”.

It’s worth noting that many of the survey participants felt that buy on board products were expensive, offering little choice and many times items were already sold out. However it’s not all doom and gloom, Mary Kirby-Editor in Chief of the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) media platform explains that “Virgin America offers some great buy on board options that are healthy, delicious and well-priced. I also love the menu options and wide variety that is available on FlyDubai”.

The Winners

Of the airlines mentioned in the survey Asian carriers such as: Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Korean Air faired very well with their inflight meal offerings. However it was two UK airlines who ranked well, 20% of respondents found Virgin Atlantic airline food suitable to their needs, with 14% stating that British Airways was their favourite. Of the low cost airlines easyJet was recognised as being the leader in buy on board snack options for women.


Sometimes it’s about where you sit!

If you happen to be flying low cost, didn’t prepare your snacks and didn’t have time to purchase anything in the airport what can you do? “Sit closer to the front of the aircraft” says Loukas, most inflight services commence at the front of the aircraft and move towards the rear of the aircraft. “You really have no hope in getting your first choice if you’re sitting close to the back of the aircraft”

Pre Order

The survey results revealed that only 10% of respondents have paid to “upgrade” their meal, with 41% stating that they would pay an extra $10 to upgrade their meals. Pre order meal options on airlines are on the increase, passengers can now purchase a business class style of meal whilst sitting in economy class. These meals are certainly a class above those generally dished out to economy class passengers therefore if you want to indulge or have a culinary inflight dining experience, pay to upgrade your meal! Some of the airlines offering upgrade options include: KLM, Air France, Delta Airlines, US Airways, Air Berlin, Sun Express, Austrian Airlines, Monarch, and Jet2.

Order the special meal

Many people these days are ordering special meals even if they do not follow a strict diet or lifestyle choice diet. A savvy 56% of female travellers’ surveyed pre ordered a special meal in the hope of receiving something that is more palatable, and it’s worth noting that those ordering a special meal are served first.

Do a bit of research

Some airlines are really trying hard to impress us with amazing inflight meal options. Do a bit of research before you travel you may actually be surprised at what‘s on offer.

Skywork airlines in Switzerland will serve you a meal based on the destination you are flying to, very creative indeed and a lovely experience. So if you’re flying from the UK to Switzerland they will serve you a local Swiss dish option. Flying to Italy? Expect an Italian inspired dish to get your trip started before you even arrive.

Kullaflyg (A Swedish based airline) offers only organic inflight meals to passengers, everything is sourced from local producers and created fresh daily. Unlike other airlines Kullaflyg offers their organic inflight range to passengers in economy class. Breakfast options consists of a choice of sandwiches made from locally freshly baked bread or Greek yoghurt with homemade muesli. If those dishes don’t tickle your fancy you can also choose from a wide range of organic egg options which are served with caviar cream.


Room ServiceWomen Really Want ... From Room Service

We recently ran an independent survey amongst professional women around the world into what women really want from room service.  Of the 100 women surveyed, 53% stated that they felt hotel room service was generally tailored towards men with menus of high carb, meaty dishes turning women off staying in to dine.  In fact 54% of respondents said that they rarely or never dine in their hotel rooms with only 4% of women always staying in.  Those ladies who dine alone in their hotel rooms often do so because they are nervous about venturing out of a hotel and into an unknown city alone.

When asked what dishes they would like to see on the room service menus, 43% of women said that they would like to see more appetising salad options and many would like to add lighter protein ingredients such as steamed fish and chicken.  Other popular suggestions were healthy soups, snacking plates, mezes and more adventurous vegetarian dishes.  The tone was overwhelmingly about lighter and healthier dishes.  Room service can deliver a significant revenue contribution to any hotel that gets the menu and the service just right.

Henrik Muehle, Managing Director of the St James Hotel and Club in London agrees that “All good hotels like to claim they are a ‘home from home’ for their guests, but fall down on this claim in their provision of room service, which is where the real test lies.  There are a few simple rules: speed, accuracy and quality of food and service; get these right and the orders will flow in freeing up your restaurant tables and encouraging guests who would otherwise go out to eat, to stay with you”.

Martin Wilks of Purple Sage the Hospitality Consultancy adds that “Room service is often the poor relation in a hotel's food and beverage operation.  Often dismissed as ‘nuisance value revenue’ and managed by more junior staff, room service frequently fails to live up to the guest expectation of a luxury dining experience in their bedroom.”

Gordon Jackson, General Manager of The Thorpe Park Hotel and Spa in Leeds says that "Room service tends to be an experience that’s either fantastic or terrible - and it’s usually determined by the menu choices on offer.  If you see an extensive menu on room service I’d avoid it - far better to choose from a limited but well-planned menu, as this generally means the hotel has thought about what works, how food travels, holds heat and looks appealing to the guest.   Some of our most popular dishes are Baked Beans on Toast and Caesar Salads, Daily Specials, and comfort foods - simple things, done really well and delivered with a smile."

Whether it’s breakfast or a light evening meal, too many hotels fail to deliver the quality of service and food that is provided (without question) in the restaurant downstairs in the same hotel.  In fact once certain hotel restaurants become busy, the first service to suffer is the room service operation, either due to pressure on the kitchen or inadequate staffing levels in the restaurant to deliver the food and drink.

When asked what hotels could do better to entice ladies to order room service, many respondents reiterated their preference for healthier options and smaller portions and for hot food to be delivered hot, not luke-warm. High service and delivery charges and a lack of somewhere comfortable to be able to sit and dine whilst watching TV were some of the other reasons why women steered clear of room service.

A number of women stated that they would like to see room service delivered by female staff and that they would welcome a call from the kitchen to tell them that their food was on its way and to have their trays taken away promptly.  The option to collect your own food from the kitchen would also be appreciated.  Some ladies said that they would like to see additional information on the room service menus such as calorific and fat contents.

One of the hotels that understands the value of healthy room service is the Metropolitan in Bangkok.  Executive chef, Chris Miller said "we like to offer our guests the choice of healthy cuisine for in room dining.  Because we have Glow at The Met, we are able to draw from the menu with a selection of dishes that are included in the in-room directory and marked accordingly, so guests know the dishes they order are healthy options”.

Sample dishes that would suit the health conscious female traveller might include a wild rice, bean and seed salad with tahini tamari dressing followed by steamed fish of the day with fragrant shiitake mushroom broth or lentil and 7 grain burger with tomato salsa avocado and sprouts.

According to Wilks, “Many female guests who are frequent travellers also desire a ‘little taste of home’ in their bedroom, so for all the luxury menu items some simply prepared food can also deliver enormous guest satisfaction”.