Accommodating female leisure travelers

Women are emerging as influencers in the leisure travel sector, and hoteliers need to modify their offerings to accommodate this growing demographic.

Is there a gender bias in leisure travel? Or, is it an equal split? All arrows point to women as the clear leaders in this travel sector.

Women are surmounting their traditional roles of mother and caregiver with disposable income per capita experiencing a 6.1% real growth over the 2007 to 2012 period with an 18.2% growth projected for the next seven years from 2013 to 2020, according to Euromonitor International. Moreover, in developed nations, the salary gap continues to narrow, helping to further erode any entrenched glass-ceiling effect. In short, more influence and more spending power means more female-driven consumption.

Looking closer to home are some even more profound markers. According to Road & Travel Magazine, women comprise 40% of all business travelers. Importantly, they are said to influence 80% of all sales and travel expenditures, albeit often through more oblique processes. This is exemplified through the “grocery list” male shopper—men making the actual purchase, but acting on behalf of a spouse, mother, sibling or girlfriend.What would happen if all your advertising efforts and promotions were geared entirely to women? That is, if you know your hotel or resort caters more to women than to men, can you generate a better revenue stream by doubling down on your core demographic, so to speak? Next, when considering a new cycle of renovations to a resort, would you be more inclined to opt for spa upgrades or a refurbishment of the golf course or other sports facility, knowing that you can only afford one?

A good channel mix and broad base of appeal in your marketing efforts is the safe bet. However, it wouldn’t hurt to better grasp the differences in how men and women experience travel so you can engineer advertising and social media messages that broadcast on the same wavelength as the more influential sex.

The latest literature and surveys speak to two common characteristics: Women are now more time-pressed than ever before, and they desire unique experiences. Your promotions and packages should be attuned accordingly. Don’t just play to traditional stereotypes like fashion and pampering (although these do have their place). Instead, you must appeal to a new age of incredibly harried consumers—who also happen to be women—seeking an exceptional, memorable trip.

In your promotional slate, go beyond the simple “Girls Getaway” or “Spa Pampering” style of packages. That’s what everyone else is already doing. To bestow something a tad more memorable, the buzz term that percolates most to mind is “authentic” local experience. Emphasize that your property, locale and its physical surroundings are unlike any other geographic regions. Words like exotic, adventure, sightseeing, life-changing, thrill-seeking, travel treasure, hidden gem, bucket list, cultural enrichment, ecotourism and voluntourism can go miles toward expressing the right type of experience-led travel. There’s also the wellness route as many women yearn for active relaxation where they can focus on self improvement, encompassing fitness, rejuvenation of body and mind, introspection and learning a new skill.

The other broad category of purchase drivers deals with the hard-pressed and rushed nature we live in these days. Convenience is key. This can be articulated, for instance, through some well-inscribed copy denoting how close your property is to the nearest airport or city center. This can also be conveyed through value-add offers, such as perks that reduce stress and wait times: free Wi-Fi, flexible check-in, complimentary meals, spa offers and so on. This works especially well for resorts, which tend to be more robust in their amenity offerings.

Regardless of sex or incentive, no hotel is immune to bad word of mouth. Whether you cater more to men or more to women, your onsite experience must be top notch or else you won’t be able to propagate long-term returns and loyalty.

With that, I’ll end with a few tips I’ve gathered through numerous conversations pertaining to pet peeves and grievances as seen through a woman’s eyes:

  • Poor bathroom lighting;
  • lack of magnifying makeup or vanity mirror;
  • shampoo or cleanser bottles too small;
  • cheap or skimpy bathrobes;
  • no nightlight directing guests to the bathroom;
  • overly complex TV remote control;
  • overly complex lighting controls—ensure that some controls are beside the bed;
  • hard-to-access electrical outlets for recharging devices;
  • pay-for water bottles;
  • insufficient hangers in closet;
  • jammed windows or ones that are a strain to open;
  • flaws in housekeeping.

Also note these were collected with regard to leisure vacations and do not speak to behavior in business travel. So, to end, I pose the question: What are you doing to make your property more useful for women? Knowing that they can make or break your leisure revenue stream, what are you doing to perpetuate a thoroughly healthy relationship with your female leisure travelers?

(Article published by Larry Mogelonsky on Hotel News Now on July 23, 2013)

Larry MogelonskyAccommodating female leisure travelers