Appealing to Women Travelers
By Jane Renton General Manager, Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel | August 03, 2010
The essential point, however, remains: there are differences between men and women, a fact most of us probably appreciate. From the hotelier's perspective the question is less about the differences in gender than about whether ladies and gents should be treated differently. Do women, in fact, want to be treated differently from their male colleagues and counterparts?
Speaking as a woman and as the general manager of a hotel that enjoys a sizable and loyal clientele of women, I must say that the simple answer is "No." Most women do not want to be considered a "special category" of hotel guest any more than they want to be considered a special category in the workplace. They want to be treated with the consideration and respect that any guest is provided. Some, particularly women traveling alone, might even feel that being too obviously identified as a "woman" guest draws unwanted attention and thus threatens their sense of security.
What women want from a hotel experience, I believe, and what we try very hard to provide, is to have their needs and expectations met. A pleasant surprise or two is also nice. What is very important is to recognize that women's needs and expectations, in many important ways, are different from those of men.
More than anything else, women travelers want to feel comfortable, I think. Not simply a cozy bed and a sumptuous bath but a sense of comfort that comes from feeling confident and secure - in the privacy of the room, of course, but also in public areas - particularly restaurants, lounges and lobby - and in the hotel's surrounding neighborhood. In part, that comfort comes from a sense that even when traveling alone they are part of an attentive community that is the hotel and its staff. Without this sense of comfort, all the special amenities provided to our lady guests are incidental.
If this is true, then how best to meet the needs and expectations of women travelers? At the risk of over-simplification once again, I believe the answer is "with subtlety." Of course, there are certain givens that favor some hotels over others when it comes to appealing to the female gender. For all travelers, male and female, location, as we all know, is of primary importance, especially for business travelers. Women, however, tend to see beyond the street address and its convenience to take in the surrounding area - the neighborhood, its character, safety, restaurants, attractions and shops. We find that, when they have the time, our lady guests like to get out and experience Belgravia Village, with its posh and welcoming ambiance, while men tend more toward the landmarks and major attractions of London.
Size of hotel is another factor that is beyond the control of most of us and there is evidence that women prefer smaller boutique properties, if they are suitably located. This is not so much because of the facility itself but because of the personal attention and friendly recognition they often provide. Not to take anything away from the service standards of some of our largest hotels, but, in my experience, it seems that women travelers enjoy - dare I say it - the sense of family and belonging that is often a mark of a good small hotel. Much as they would at home with family or friends, we find that many of our female guests tend to keep the concierge or the front desk informed about their comings and goings. Again, it adds to their comfort level by knowing that someone else is at least cognizant of their whereabouts, if not watching over them.