Hotels – Wanting Women Travelers

These days, women are smart, savvy, upper-level business managers, owners and executives in many companies. This has birthed a new awareness in the travel industry about the needs and desires of these affluent travelers.

Hotels are seeing a different dynamic, and even a different physical appreciation of their hotel and its amenities is fundamental. The hotels have had centuries of catering to men, and have addressed them in even the subtlest ways, which don’t work for women much, if at all.

Women want luxurious rooms, which have the quietude and amenities of an excellent spa; they pay attention to the room’s details and quality and cleanliness. Guys just use it to throw their suitcase down, shower, sleep, leave.

Women don’t care about the bar. For men, that’s the magnet. Women want better gym facilities and safety all around. Men already have the gym oriented to their needs, and rarely pay attention much to who is around.

It all reflects the real needs of women traveling alone and ways they can soothe themselves from the pressures of it. Daring hotels are acknowledging this, and are finally openly catering more to women’s needs, as well as wants. Many are even instituting women-only floors, and frankly, I think this is a good thing.

Hotels already know that businesswomen are a lucrative market, and they are realizing that these women are: high-income, fiercely loyal and willing to pay more to have their needs met. But what they’re just beginning to figure out is exactly how to capitalize on what these high-powered women want.

They can offer high-end toiletries for the female traveler, plush robes and vanity mirrors, but they needs lots more creative thinking, then action. Mainstream hotels have gradually been doing more to cater to the female market, and now several hotels around the world — including one in Vancouver — have added women-only floors.

There are about 67 million female travelers so the potential of the women’s market exceeds $19 trillion annually.

And while statistics show leisure travel is down 4% due to the global economic downturn, a Canadian survey forecasts that business travel will be up by 3% this year. This is putting more business-women in more rooms, so savvy hotels need to vie for this lucrative niche market of women business travelers.

Now there are women commuting among cities regularly, often multiple cities every week. And, at least the upper echelon of these executives doesn’t bat an eyelash at paying $500 U.S. a night for a hotel room.

Most middle-tier hotels still cater more to the needs of male travelers than female ones, so they are really missing the boat, at them moment. In my experience, that’s true.

Canada.com reports one female mega-traveler saying “Women use treadmills and men use weight-machines,” according to Penelope Trunk of the Brazen Careerist.

All of us see most hotel gyms are short on treadmills. So the women get “shorted” and it becomes a male party at the gym. But, women love to exercise, so that’s not good to fail to give them proper space to do so. She says, “But almost every woman I know who travels a lot works out a lot.”

Trunk says hotels often have better bars than gyms, something which is also far more likely to please and be used by the male business traveler than the female one.

She and fellow executives she knows are loyal and have favorite chains, who do cater properly to women.

“The W is on my list. The Kimpton is on my list.” she says, and these women travelers also expect to be rewarded for their loyalty.

“Loyalty is huge,” says Trunk. “I stayed at this one hotel in New York City probably 50 times. They have no loyalty program. So I said, well, just give me five nights free. And they didn’t. I was outraged. Totally ridiculous. I’m making a commitment to them. They need to make a commitment back to me. It’s a deal; a partnership.”

Many women may say they go for higher-end hotels because of the superior levels of service and amenities, but for me and mine and for Annie Crombie, founder of Ottawa-based Re-Think Strategic Consulting, it’s more about safety.

She looks only for 4 – 5 star hotels, and doesn’t expect to get there and find out that it’s a “shady” place.

Crombie has noticed subtle changes over the years since becoming a business traveler. Some hotels are going much farther than special toiletries in their efforts to cater to female executives. Savvy hoteliers are offering everything from thick bathrobes, curved shower-rods, vanity mirrors, yoga mats, gourmet coffees and teas and even satin-covered hangers for women’s more delicate clothes. These are being added to the rooms of higher-end hotels around the world.

Foremost on any gender traveler’s mind these days is that hotel management find an approach to make sure that all of the guests who are staying at their hotel are secure and that they’re safe.

And, hoteliers are becoming aware that women will typically want to order-up breakfast to their room much more than men do — so if they are catering to a large group of women, they must make sure to have more room-service waiters available for breakfast.

Trunk agrees. Not only does she want room-service meals available at all hours to accommodate shifting time zones, she also expects to have a robe to throw on when her meal arrives.

The valuable space in women’s suitcases has to go for far more outfits and accessories than men need to bring, so many pack only business apparel and workout clothes. If you get up in the morning and there’s no robe, it’s totally annoying having to put on workout clothes to answer the door for room service.

And, on the decision to offer women’s-only floors, it works well.

But, the logistical challenges are compounded by privacy laws in Canada that prevent a hotel from asking a guest’s gender when he or she is booking. So, women must speak-up for themselves.

Understandably, women can choose to stay on female-only floors in the Jumerirah Emirates Towers in Dubai and the ITC Maurya in New Delhi. In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, there’s even an entire female-only hotel called the Luthan Hotel & Spa. But away from the Muslim world, The Fleming in Hong Kong, is now women oriented.

In the United States, The Premier Hotel in New York’s Time Square and Crowne Plazas in Washington, D.C., and Bloomington, Minnesota, also now offer floors exclusively for women. The Hampton Inn & Suites in Albany, New York, unveiled its Empire Floor (now, 2 years later, the hotel says the experiment has been a success: the special floor is extremely popular and has a high proportion of repeat customers).

It is perhaps because that knowledge is making its way around hospitality industry circles that just three months ago, the Georgian Court in downtown Vancouver added a women’s-only floor as part of large-scale renovation which is making the whole hotel feel more welcoming to women.

Before the renovations, the look was more European and almost old boys’ club. Now, that’s passè.

They created an Orchid Floor — 18 rooms on the hotel’s 10th floor which are available only to female guests.

Management there says they wanted their hotel to move away from a generic offering and create something different.

So, the rooms on the special floor have fresh orchids in them. They provide fluffy robes, a ladies-only emergency kit containing pantyhose and tampons, a flat iron for straightening hair, a curling iron, magazines and large amounts of Aveda products. In doing so, the hotel has given women more space in their suitcases for shoes and the other multiple outfits women require.

A yoga mat is also provided in each room on the new Orchid Floor, and it will work for Pilates, as well.

The responses in Vancouver have been very positive, so maybe, in the future, more smart hotels will offer women much more than they do now, and retain their loyalty. Let us know when you find more hotels to add to this list!

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