Clare Burnett

Leeds-based women’s travel network expanding globally

Leeds-based maiden-voyage, the brainchild of entrepreneur Carolyn Pearson, has been growing fast after launching in 2008.

Maiden Voyage aims to create a network of female business travellers, and has expanded into hotel recommendations.

A number of hotels that have gone through maiden-voyage hotel training have gone up a star rating, seen revenue and guest retention increases and an upturn in customer satisfaction.

Carolyn has projected that in the next three years, maiden-voyage will reach 100 ambassadors, 100,000 members and involve 300 hotels.

With a ten-fold increase in revenues in the last twelve months as a result of hotel partner retention, maiden-voyage are now working with non-hotel brands from the luxury, travel and fashion sectors who are also keen to engage with their members worldwide, all whom are professional women who are time poor and generally higher income earners.

maiden-voyage currently has 21 ambassadors in cities such as Beijing, Hong Kong New York, Philadelphia, Sydney, and Dubai as well as closer to home in Newcastle, Leeds and London.

Carolyn said: “Picture the scene, you’ve travelled halfway across the world for a business trip to one of the world’s most exciting cities.

“But you are there alone and there is little more to do than sit in your hotel room eating room service, or if you are confident enough dining solo in the hotel restaurant.

“That was the exact scenario I found myself in back in 2008. Passionate about travel I was excited to be heading off to LA on a flight covered by my employer and I booked a couple of extra hotel nights on my own personal budget.

“But in reality, as a lone female traveller I wasn’t comfortable to go out and paint Hollywood red all alone and so I found myself stuck in a dull, soulless business hotel on a Saturday night.

“Soon members started to ask us for hotel recommendations, safe places to stay that went the extra mile to make lone female travellers welcome.

“On asking our members what they really wanted to see in a ‘female friendly’ hotel, from the feedback these women gave us, we created a brand standard against which to measure hotels.

“Requirements largely fell into two categories, safety – such as double-locking doors, 24x7 manned reception, discretion when communicating the room number and location of the hotel and comfort.

“As a result we now partner with hand selected hotels around the world who we can confidently recommend to our members.

“The decision to introduce team of global ambassadors was a turning point for us.

“Members were asking very specific questions about different cities around the world and so it made sense to ask local women to share their top tips and recommendations.

“The ambassadors are travel savvy women who know their cities well, have a good sense of community and are keen to help other women by sharing their local knowledge.

“In terms of female friendly hotel recommendations, women are much more trusting of recommendations and sense of community rather than blatant advertising.

“We physically inspect every hotel from a checklist that has been developed by our members needs.

“The ambassador team has really helped us to expand globally they can get out and encourage new members to sign up, they bring new hotels, restaurants and spa’s on board and provide really useful content for the website.”

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