The Travel Gap for Women

"Really? Most women are thrilled to have this car," said the car rental agent.
"As a woman in business, I need to be taken seriously," I said. "I can't show up to meet with clients in that."

I ordered a standard-size car for a week-long trip. The disputed car: a powder blue, Volkswagen Beetle.

The agent said, "I'm sorry, it's the last standard-size we have. If you want something else, you'll have to pay for the upgrade." I shelled out the money but I wasn't happy.

In business travel, women are sometimes treated differently. I figured this out, after at different hotels, I was repeatedly placed in the room up against the elevator shaft. Have you ever had that room? All night, you can hear rrrrr… shhhh… rrrrr… anytime anyone is going up or down.

Finally, I asked for a room away from the elevator. They gave me the room up against the stairwell. In that room, you could hear every single person tromp, tromp, tromping up and down the stairs. (Doesn't anyone pick up their feet?)

As a woman, you may have to assert yourself. If you don't want the powder blue Beetle or the room against the elevator shaft, say something.

Returning the rental car, I was asked about my experience. I told the manager about the powder blue Beetle and said, "If I were a man, that car would not have been offered to me. I would have had a free upgrade."

He apologized and gave me a free upgrade on my next rental. That's important. If the initial person is not helpful and no one else is available, you can still get compensation or a concession from customer service or management later. Don't write companies off. Give them a chance to make it right.
Apology accepted.



Culture and Manners Institute