Women are saving companies millions, and not in the way you’d think

She probably booked her flight before he did.
She probably booked her flight before he did.
Image: Getty Images/George Rose
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Women are saving businesses millions of dollars a year simply by planning ahead, a recent study in the Harvard Business Review found.

New research by CWT Solutions Group (pdf), which studied the of habits of men and women who travel for work, found that female employees consistently book business flights an average of two days earlier than their male counterparts. The findings, based on an analysis of 6.4 million flight bookings in 2014, accounted for factors like routes taken, flight class, and period of travel.

Booking early helps businesses’ bottom lines. That two-day difference saved women, and their employers, an average of $17.30 more per fare than their male counterparts, or 2% of the average ticket price, according to the report.

At a company with 1,000 travelers a year, that amounts to roughly $48,000 in annual savings. The researchers, which include economists from Arizona State University and Ohio State University, estimated those savings based on the flight-booking database, which showed that men make up 70% of work travelers and take an average of four trips a year. At that rate, a large, multinational business with 21,000 travelers a year, could save more than $1 million annually.

The study did not explore what drives female business travelers to plan farther ahead than men. But a previous CWT study (pdf) found women are generally more stressed by work travel than men, the paper noted. That stress could factor into women’s tendency to book flights farther in advance.

CWT’s latest research did not attempt to establish a direct link between the two reports. When asked why women book business flights earlier than men, Catalin Ciobanu, senior director of data and analytics at CWT, said, “This is the million dollar question… The short answer is, we don’t know.”

Business travelers, it seems, also plan farther ahead as they age. Business travelers between the ages of 30 and 70 years old booked five days earlier, on average, than their younger counterparts, regardless of gender, the study showed.