Monday, 27 April 2009

What women [business travellers] want

Gulliver (The Economist travel blog) has a piece about how women are becoming a significant group of business travellers and how hotels are attempted to respond to this, spurred on no doubt by a general decline in business traveller numbers.
The way hotels are trying to reach out to female business travellers is an interesting study in gender stereotypes. Hotels, apparently, have finally answered the age-old question of what women want. Their answer, according to the Dispatch story, is evening wine hour, in-room spa services, curling irons, "fashion tape", aromatherapy, and, of course, yoga.
However, the writer goes on to argue that all business travellers have the same basic needs:
There's an element of silliness to this story. Women have been travelling for business for years, and both sexes need the basic things a hotel provides. Everyone wants a safe, comfortable place to sleep, wash up, and maybe get some work done.
As someone who travels a bit for work, this story got me thinking about whether I would choose to stay in a hotel that specially catered for women, or had a women-only floor. I think I tend to agree that if a hotel could get the basics right (clean, reliable internet connection, a good shower), I can forgo the aromatherapy. However, are there useful services that hotels could offer women?


homepaddock said...

Decent lighting so you can see to read (which wouldn't only apply to women) and put on make up.

Full length mirror.

Trouble said...

I'd settle for conditioner as well as shampoo in the bathrooms. Hairdryers, with plugs close enough to a mirror, are also a nice bonus. It doesn't need to be froufrou, just designed with a bit of forethought in mind.

I have to say, though, the highlight of my work travel experience was the place where I could see the telly from inside the three-corner spa bath. There might have also been somewhere nearby to purchase a Magnum, too. Way to wind down after a long day of meetings.

Anna said...

Fashion tape? I'd never thought to tape down my boobies before - but then, they generally stay where I put them.

Since business travellers mostly need to be well-presented and be able to do some work, I don't think there's much of a gender difference to be had here - just the things 'required' for women-specific presentation stuff, like a full-length mirror.

I'm not exactly a jet-setter, so when I stay in motels it tends to be with family in tow. And then it becomes a matter of kid-friendly facilities. (This includes not being woken by drunk folks.)

There seems to be a bit of 'women as self-indulgent and frivolous- stereotyping here. Am I the only woman on the planet who doesn't see the point of aromatherapy?

katy said...

"There seems to be a bit of 'women as self-indulgent and frivolous- stereotyping here"

I agree. Women still face additional barriers to succeeding in workplaces and to taking on externally-focussed roles in which they would need to travel and I find it interesting that hotels have decided that the services listed are what they assume to be priorities for this group. Is this another reminder that it doesn't matter what you might say at your meetings, the most important thing is how your hair looks and good hotels understand this? I suspect that an attempt to cater to the "needs of men" would involve more discussion of access to sports news and alochol and less to grooming facilities.

The comments after the article include mention of women-only floors which are staffed only by women, and in-room bar services, both of which may be motivated by safety concerns.

Sarah said...

I used to travel a huge amount for work - not sure if these things are women specific though. Room service so I don't have to go in search of food after a big day, a good internet connection, an iron. I like the full length mirror idea. A gym or a pool to get some exercise done, especially on a long trip. The yoga is great as long as it is worker-hour friendly.

Anita said...

I travel quite a lot for work and often prefer motels to hotels so I have somewhere to cook and so I can feel I have some kind of relationship with the peope who run the place.

I'm not sure how many of these are woman-y things but things I like to have that are not fully practical (like proper internet):
* a bath (and bathroom lights which aren't wired to a noisy extractor fan)
* a radio which I can move into or hear in the bathroom without turning it way up
* a couch (I prefer reading on a couch)
* a desk to work at which is not the same as the table to eat at
* breakfast delivered _early_ in the evening (so no knocks at the door after dark or early)
* peppermint tea (or another good herbal caffeine free tea)
* a rubbish bin with a lid in the bathroom (this is a woman thing, I want somewhere to put pads)
* washing line or a shower rail I can dry things on
* extra blankets (I want to be warm without an electric blanket or a heater)
* recycling bin
* motel layout so people don't walk past my bedroom window
* opening windows with safety catches on the quiet side of the motel (safe quiet fresh air that I can leave open over night)
* walking distance of where I'm working
* walking distance of a river or bush or bot garden

Hm... I sound picky :) I'll survive without most of those, but I keep going back to places that offer them. I guess it's the amount I travel, I know what makes me feel comfortable and at home :)

katy said...

Anita, your comment about building a relationship with the people at the place you stay reminded me of my previous job where I used to travel to some provincial towns and of some of the places I found once I gave up on local hotels/motels and started looking for alternatives. In one town that I often stayed over in there were two B&Bs that I used to alternate between, one was in the most gorgeous location but the owners were just a little too friendly so I couldn't handle it every time and would mix it up with a place which was almost as nice and where they left me completely alone. Your post has made me resolve to try and stay away from impersonal hotel chains for a while and to experiment again with establishments run by real people.

stargazer said...

katy, all employees are "real people"! true, they might not have the commitment of owner/operators, but they probably earn less too.

katy said...

stargazer, sorry, I meant in terms of the chains (Mercure, Accor, Copthorne etc).

Cactus Kate said...

Seating where fat men don't fall asleep all over me.