Our Girl Bosses of Great Britain feature is about Carolyn Pearson of Maiden Voyage who founded her business in 2008 in response to feeling isolated and lonely on a business trip to the USA.
Upon her return to the UK she undertook some research to see if any other female business travellers felt the same as she did, and she was shocked to find that this was a standard feeling for many businesswomen who travel for their work.
Not wanting to miss any future opportunities when visiting new and exciting countries and cities alone, Carolyn started Maiden Voyage with the sole purpose of putting businesswomen in touch with other businesswomen in that country or city so that they could potentially meet up and not have to spend an evening having room service alone.
The thing that stood out for Carolyn on her travels was that female solo travellers received unwanted attention, and that seemingly the best option was to stay in their hotel room and not dine in the restaurant, or venture out of the hotel to see this new city or country, and she wanted this to change.
We asked Carolyn a few questions about Maiden Voyage and how it has evolved since 2008.
Q. When you launched Maiden Voyage in 2008 what was the main aspect of the business, and how has it developed into today’s Maiden Voyage as we know it?
Initially the website was for my own indulgence and that of ‘women like me’. We wanted to get out, explore and socialise in far-flung business cities and to be honest it was never meant to be a business per se. However, women started to come to me to ask for hotel recommendations so that saw the launch of our ‘female-friendly’ hotel programme and that’s when I realised I could commercialise the idea. Next we were approached by travel managers and travel security managers who wanted us to help them to put a ‘gender agenda’ together when it came to travel safety. As a result we now have a corporate offering, provide classroom travel safety training, a suite of eLearning Programmes and a series of traveller wellbeing webinars.
Q. Is Maiden Voyage solely for businesswomen or do you offer advice and support for any women who are thinking of travelling solo around the world?
We focus on key business cities and have over 80 ambassadors located around the world who support us. So whilst we focus on business travel, anybody travelling to a key city can get something from the site or top tips from our ambassadors. We also provide travel safety advice for the LGBTQ community as many places around the world are intolerant to homosexuality and in extreme cases this could carry a jail sentence or even the death penalty.
Q. You offer travel tips on your website, are these tips from the women who have travelled to a new country and experienced it, or are they tips shared by women who live in and work in that country? What kind of tips are offered?
Many of our tips are based on first-hand experience of when things have gone wrong for a traveller. Every day, sadly somebody shares a travel related incident with us so we analyse what went wrong and work out how future travellers might mitigate against that risk. We learn from others mistakes and misfortunes, many of which have been mine!
Q. Can you tell the House of Coco female traveller more about your certified female-friendly hotels?
Women travellers are looking for safety, comfort and well-being. For us, safety is crucial. We only certify hotels that have two independent door locks that cannot be overridden by a master key, which as we have seen has led to a number of sexual assaults in hotels. Comfort factors include well-lit makeup mirrors, good quality hairdryers and decent toiletries and wellbeing might be things such as onsite gyms, swimming pools, spas and of course healthy menu options.
Hotels listed on Maiden Voyage often provide extra add-ons for Maiden Voyage members such as room upgrades, a welcome cocktail or mini-spa treatment.
Q. There is an element to your business where women can book an e-Learning course, what are these courses about and how can they help a solo traveller?
We have 20xminute eLearning modules incorporating Packing & Pre-planning, Hotel Safety, Safe Ground Transportation, Intercultural Awareness and Safe Meetings & Leisure Time. The modules are packed with top tips to keep women safe, expertly curated and built with travel industry security experts. Even the most experienced travellers tell us that they’ve learned a thing or two after completing the courses.
Q. If someone wants to register to join Maiden Voyage are there any costs associated with becoming a member?
No, membership is entirely free and members have access to the networking function, our ambassador network, travel safety tips, special offers and competitions and occasional events and webinars.
Q. What are the plans for Maiden Voyage over the coming months, is there anything exciting on the horizon?
We’re very much in the scale of phase of our evolution. We now have trainers in the USA and Europe and can deliver our courses in French, Spanish and Italian so we will be pushing these out.
We’ve also got fantastic traction with the large FTSE/NASDAQ/Multi-national corporations and this will see our biggest area of expansion alongside finding more outstandingly good female-friendly hotels and finally, I’d like to develop further eLearning modules to support the NGO and humanitarian sectors.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our #GBOGB questions, and for helping women to enjoy their business travels around the world. For more info search online for Maiden-Voyage.com