"Female centric" - the buzz words at the heart of the new business women's movement -
Currently hospitality is extended to many women by many a hotelier. Wanting to remaining competitive and in tune with customer needs and preferences, chains, groups and independent hoteliers are looking at ways to cater specifically for women.
Considerations take place, both at the point of hotel conceptual design and at the time of building renovations. Minor alterations and every day adaptations to facilities and amenities can also make a difference to what could be considered "feminine requirements".
Supporting evidence for this need to make special concessions is that, according to "women on their way" 2003 NYU survey carried out by The Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management, 40% of business travellers in the US are women.
How Hotels Cater for WomenThe same as their male counterparts, women travellers need a comfortable bed, adequate lighting and would like complimentary phone calls and Internet access. In addition however, are the following findings:1. Security
Since many women are used to living with a partner, spouse, in shared accommodation or high security home units, being away from ‘home' can be unnerving. The Hilton Park Lane London, has a women only floor, their method of increasing security.
Ideally women's rooms or a whole floor are off the street and grouped to enable regular security checks to be carried out. This in itself gives peace of mind for those staying. 2. A Comfortable Public Lounge
As the InterContinental Hotel Group discovered, when designing Hotel Indigo, several changes to their product really enhance their appeal to the female market. At the time of concept design, thought was given to the fact that many women don't feel comfortable and don't necessarily enjoy spending time in a bar.
An alternative meeting point and communal area such as a coffee shop makes all the difference. Ideally a lounge area where a light meal can be eaten or a glass of wine enjoyed whilst holding a business meeting or reading a book is a good use of space. 3. The Importance of Colour
Colour schemes, good art work and alternatives to beige are important to the feminie perspective. Fresh designs and regular changes are appreciated.4. The Bathroom
Large bath areas are also high up on the list of preferences. Rather than using extra room space for an in-room lunge or bedroom, a large bath tub would be of more use.
Many independent hoteliers have made alterations such as equipping bathrooms with well lit mirrors and powerful hair dryers, as well as providing quality bathroom toiletries.5. Healthy Menu Options
Menus that include light healthy options and in-room service work well. 6. Amenities
The NYU Survey also found that preferred amenities are more to do with personal comfort than business needs. For women, the want list includes: "a mini-bar (71%), quality bath toiletries (56%), spa services (47%), a fitness centre (24%), high-speed Internet access (25%) and an in-room coffee maker (31%)."7. Location
In addition to room design, facilities and security it has been noted that while women are away from home they are most likely to want to relax, enjoy a bit of leisure time, and add holiday days to have a longer stay in an interesting location.8. Travelling with children
With women spending longer building a career, often once a woman has had a child, she may stop work for a short time but then return to the work place.
Whilst many women in business travel without children, for those that do, the good news is that some hotels will cater for a family. Take for example the Four Seasons Hotel in Mexico City. When making a reservation as a family, the hotel goes to great lengths to welcome a guest and enable a business parent to manage work meetings and family life. A range of toys are provided in the room, there is extra space for a play room, essential baby equipment and services to cater for many babysitting needs.9. Finally……The Travel Appeal
Generally speaking, women value the intangible benefits associated with business travel. In addition to seeing business travel as an important part of their job, they experience positive emotions such as freedom from the daily routine, recognition of achievement, as well as the opportunity to broaden their outlook.10. Women are Savvy Customers
Price wars and reduced travel budgets means that many a business traveller is staying at less expensive hotels. When General Managers of 5star hotels are keeping a constant eye on the competition locally, they are not only watching hotels in the same sector, but 4 star hotels who are equally able to compete for the business customer.
To increase sales opportunities and stay ahead of the locals with the latest refurbishments, conference facilities and female centric designs the challenge to GM's is to cater for the savvy female customer. Once aware of the comfort provided by a women friendly hotel, it would be hard to not want to experienced and the same standard of hospitality elsewhere.
With the need to increase and maintain brand loyalty will the female centric hotel designs become standard in all locations? Will more independent hoteliers start to make the minor but effective alterations?Image is courtesy of VisMediaSpotLight is the weekly column exclusively written for 4Hoteliers.com by Sarah Muxlow, it is highlighting the challenges and issues which the global hospitality is facing today.
Sarah is writing for hotel and restaurant owners, hotel chain managers, producers/growers/sellers of food & beverage, restaurant associations, governing bodies and hotel schools. She is looking at the problems they face...competition, trends of branding, staff shortages, unskilled staff, turning out students who are looking for good in-house management training schemes with hotel chains, what makes a good quality training course at a hotel school and more...