Hotels get in touch with their feminine side

The number of female executive travelers is steadily on the increase but what exactly do they expect from a hotel and how can hotels cater for their needs?

Text: Lois Hoyal // FOTOS: iStock/Sandra Dreher (c) Hoffotografen

As the world strives to achieve increasing gender equality, it’s heartening to see that the number of women business travelers is on the increase: women currently account for over 40% of all business travelers. It makes sense therefore that hotels tailor their amenities and services in response to female-specific demands in order to remain competitive and capitalize from this growing market segment.

After all, hotels that cater for women’s requirements and preferences only stand to benefit from higher profits and positive customer feedback, according to a report from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration.

That, of course, begs the age-old question: just exactly what do women want? When it comes to their hotel experience, the answer isn’t so elusive. Women business travelers consistently request to feel safe, comfortable, empowered, and pampered while staying away on business.

Safety first

The number one requirement for today’s female business traveler is safety and security. In general, female guests prefer to be able to reach their rooms without having to walk down long, empty corridors and many like the idea of staying on corridors with only female rooms. Women also appreciate covered parking spots close to the hotel lobby.

Women also want to lock their room door securely: a survey from Maiden Voyage, a network for professional women business travelers, found that 51% of women had felt vulnerable at some point while staying in a hotel, with many placing a chair behind the door to provide peace of mind.

And women want discretion at check-in when reception staff communicate the room number so keep your voice low so not everyone around you can hear you!

In their comfort zone

More than male counterparts, businesswomen desire and expect a certain level of comfort during their hotel stay. This ranges from having a decent hairdryer in their room, to having a shower with a massage function and a kit of essentials, such as makeup remover, a razor or a spare toothbrush, available that they might have forgotten to pack.

And paying attention to those extra details counts: female travelers especially appreciate added touches such as fresh flowers, a basket of fruit or well-thought décor in their hotel room.

Food for thought

What’s on the menu is also important to female business travelers. Those watching their figure want to see a reduced calorie option available on the menu. And continental breakfasts are highly sought after among female clientele.

Don’t forget feelings of empowerment when targeting female executives. Many enjoy female “networking tables” in restaurants, allowing them to meet and socialize with fellow female colleagues, while not having to dine alone. Other services including 24/7 room service and in-room facilities such as herbal teas help achieve a sense of independence and well-being.

Ladies first

So which hotels are already switched on to the idea of female-friendly rooms? One example is the Hotel Bristol in Geneva, which offers “Ladies First” rooms with an espresso machine, a selection of herbal teas and low calorie room service options.

Dukes Hotel in London has “Duchess Room Service”, with a female room attendant escorting female guests to their room and handling all room service and housekeeping requirements throughout their stay. Other bonuses include a choice of glossy lifestyle magazines on the dresser, as well as a selection of healthy and nutritious in-room dining options.

Meanwhile, Accor Hotels provides an “Inspired by Her” program, which incorporates healthy or light cocktails at the bar, healthy comfort food and make-up and nail polish remover wipes and hair ties, available at the reception desk.

Other hotels are following suit. After all, these added touches could entice an added share of female travellers. On the other hand, not catering for female executives means missing out on a growing business segment.

Interview with Sandra Dreher, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Leonardo Hotels, Central Europe

What has been the reaction towards your women-friendly rooms?

Dreher: The proportion of female business travelers has been rising steadily for years, also in our hotels. We all know that the demand of traveling businesswomen differ from those of their male counterparts. We are happy to tend to our guests’ individual wishes and needs. The idea was born after travel managers expressed their wishes in an interview. In addition, we interviewed female travelers about how, from their point of view, an ideal room should be designed and equipped and this is how the “women-friendly” room product was created – by women for women. The response of our guests to the rooms has been correspondingly positive.

What aspects do female executives particularly like?

Dreher: Businesswomen want to find a retreat, where they feel comfortable from the start. Our women-friendly rooms are stylish and modern. They create an atmosphere that invites you to relax. Our female guests particularly appreciate the finely adapted color and design concept in our women-friendly rooms, with added comforts creating a cozy yet stylish ambience. Also amenities such as fluffy bathrobes, a well-lit bathroom and the power hair drier are particularly well received. Of course the women-friendly rooms shouldn’t be without spacious workspace. Safety also plays a major role for female travelers.

Of course, it’s also important for men to feel safe while on business trips. Nevertheless we have noted that this aspect usually plays a more prominent role for women. For example, all of our women-friendly rooms are on one floor. Exclusively female employees carry out room service. Female parking spots and discreet check-in, without naming the room numbers, are a matter of course these days and also give guests a good feeling.

Has the concept attracted more female corporate travelers to your hotels?

Dreher: From the start, women-friendly rooms have been well received and in high demand among our female guests. Many of our guests recommend the rooms to their colleagues. We don’t charge extra for many special amenities in women-friendly rooms, with the exception of certain additional services.

Should specifically male-friendly hotel rooms also be introduced?

Dreher: Of course, men also have the opportunity to book a women-friendly room. The demand for special rooms for male travelers is very common. Of course, all our rooms, not just our women-friendly ones, offer a 100% feel-good atmosphere, just like our overall hotel concept. We see ourselves as a charming, authentic host who fulfills the needs of his and her guests with responsibility and passion. No matter if you are a woman or a man, every guest should feel comfortable with us. To achieve this, we define for each hotel a coordinated color and lighting concept, as well as a selection of stylish furniture and accessories influenced by the respective region or city.

But should we think about this idea? As already mentioned, we respond to every guest’s individual wishes and needs. We’ll think about it!

Where do you offer women-friendly rooms?

Dreher: We offer women-friendly rooms in our Leonardo Royal Hotels in Baden-Baden, Berlin, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Edinburgh, Frankfurt/Main, Mannheim, Munich, Ulm, Venice Mestre and Warsaw, as well as in Leonardo Hotel Bad Kreuznach.

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