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Female Friendly Stays
Hotels are rolling out the red carpet for women on business
More and more women are traveling for business and the hotel industry is taking note. According to a study by Ritz-Carlton Hotels, by the year 2000, more than half of its clientele will be women business travelers. For that reason, says spokesperson Stephanie Platt, the hotel is researching ways to target that growing market.
There’s already a program up and running in its Sydney Hotel that features the “Corporate Woman Programme,” with special amenities and services for female executive guests. The rooms’ special features include make-up mirrors, bath salts, potpourri in crystal jars, special magazine selections, low-calorie beverages in the mini-bar and complimentary hosiery (upon request). On arrival, each guest receives a complimentary velvet bag filled l with make-up remover, skin toner, toothbrush l and paste, emery board, sewing kit, shoe cleaning sponge, sanitary napkins/tampons/sanitary disposal bag, disposable razor with shave cream sachet, nail polish remover and cotton balls. These special rooms are priced the same as standard rooms but must be requested.
While Ritz Carlton is not alone in trying to suit the needs of women business travelers, other hotels, such as Days Inn, Westin, Hyatt and Hilton, say their research shows women don’t want special treatment or amenities. But whatever the case, things have changed a great deal since Hilton’s pink floors and separate entrances for women traveling alone in the late 1960s. “There was a stigma against women who stayed at hotels by themselves in the past,” says Jeanne Datz, a Hilton spokesperson. “Now it’s a lot more common for women to be alone on business trips.”
Some hotels, such as Holiday Inn, have unwritten rules. “Most of our hotels are very conscious about where they place women,” says a spokesperson. “We don’t give women rooms at the end of the hall or on the first floor; we try to give them rooms near the elevator or high- traffic areas. Also, we never verbally announce a guest’s room number; we write it down.”
At Doubletree they also found that female guests didn’t want special programs, but the hotel did adopt suggestions about amenities. “By learning from female guests, we now have irons, ironing boards and hair dryers as standard amenities in rooms,” says Anne Rhoades, executive vice president of human resources at Doubletree. The hotel found that women thought men were given more attention by desk and other hotel staff. “Now this issue is addressed specifically in our training,” adds Rhoades.
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts has perhaps been the most aggressive in going after women business travelers. In 1995, the hotel chain developed an annual Women Business Travelers Program in conjunction with the National Association of Women Business Owners. Wyndham picks the best suggestions from female business travelers, often adopting them chainwide. Winning ideas from 1997 include the offering of a steamer for guests or a complimentary steaming of suits upon check-in and “Body a la Carte,” a service that allows guests to exercise with weights and videos in