What...what? I'm not wearing the pants in this economy?!?

Well, I’ve been humbled. A recent slate of research has hit me in the face with some indisputable facts about the buying power of women in the marketplace, noting in contrast how most marketing messages remain primarily "male-centric". After reviewing my rental marketing materials, and even gut-checking some of my most trusted marketing instincts, I’ve discovered that my y-chromosome’d instincts are off the mark for reaching women travelers.

Why does this matter? Because women are now the 'Chief Purchasing Officer' in most households. They make more buying decisions than men. They make buying decisions that some (even women) might consider predominantly male-centric buys like motorcycles. Harley Davidson runs billboards that say "Your wife just called and she said 'YES!'". Clearly Harley knows the power of marketing to women. In fact, 80% of all sports apparel dollars are spent by women.


Need more proof? Check out the following research:

  • Senior women age 50 and older control $19 trillion in net worth and own more than three-fourths of the nation’s financial wealth. – MassMutual Financial Group, 2007
  • Fifty-plus American women are the healthiest, wealthiest and most active generation of women in history. - Demographics by Mark Miller
  • Over the next decade, women will control two-thirds of consumer wealth in the United States and be the beneficiaries of the largest transference of wealth in our country’s history.  – Claire Behar, Senior Partner and Director, New Business Development, Fleishman-Hillard New York
  • Female luxury consumers place the highest priority on making memories and experiences. They don’t buy things to have more things; they want the experience to go along with it.  – Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing
  • Wealthy boomer women are educated, have a high income, and make 95 percent of the purchase decisions for their households. – Karen Vogel, The Women’s Congress and co-founder and president of New Generation Event Solutions
  • Once the college bills are out of the way, the discretionary spending power of age 50-plus women soars. They spend 2.5 times what the average person spends. Women are the primary buyers for computers, cars, banking, financial services and VACATIONS. – Marti Barletta, Primetime Women


So what does this mean for you, your rental, and filling your calendar? Psychology Today says, “We inhabit our high-tech world with Stone Age minds because there has not been enough time to change our psychology to match our environment.” We’re cave people with iThings. So if purchasing decisions and power are rapidly shifting to be majority female, it would be in your best interest to market predominantly to the females. Brilliant, right! But how? Here are my Top Five recommendations.

  1. Emphasize experiences. Highlight the attractions around your vacation rental and build up your neighborhood.
  2. Emphasize family, friends, and getting together. I suspect the HomeAway marketing team had this research in hand when they came out with the “Let’s Stay Together” campaign. Spot on!
  3. Engage. Extra communication can go a long way.
  4. De-emphasize hype and exaggerated claims.
  5. Emphasize community, relationships, and history. Share stories of families who have gathered in your properties. Talk about guests who’ve come back year after year and the friendships you’ve built.

So what are your suggestions or experiences marketing to the fairer sex? Join the discussion and enter your comments below, I would love your feedback.

About the Author:

Joel Rasmussen is President and Founder of the Austin Rental Alliance, one of the largest non-profit association of vacation rentals owners in the U.S.

He is an internationally recognized speaker, writer, and filmmaker. As author of the Vacation Rental Success series, Mr. Rasmussen has become a frequent speaker for HomeAway, the world’s largest Vacation Rental marketplace. He has been interviewed for or featured in The New York Times, CNN, USA Today, Fox Business News, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.