As their discretionary income increases, women travelers are becoming an influential target for hoteliers looking to capitalize on a segment that’s ready to spend.
GLOBAL REPORT—Identifying and targeting specific demographics is imperative for any marketing strategy. Hoteliers should especially be focusing on women consumers, whose influence and spending power continues to strengthen even in a tumultuous economy, according to sources interviewed for this report.
“We make all the decisions,” quipped Terri Haack, executive VP and managing director of Terranea Resort on Palos Verdes, California, about women consumers.
At her hotel, there is whole marketing segment dedicated to the female traveler.
“We think women have more time to be a consumer because it’s their job. Even if they’re a working mother, they’re planning the family vacation,” Haack said. “They’re figuring out a way to get their siblings together to celebrate their parents’ anniversary. They’re going to figure out all the hotel rooms as they take their child to look at colleges. It falls on the women.”
The responsibility of travel planner coupled with a growing discretionary income have made women a prime target for marketers.
According to market-research firm Euromonitor International’s annual survey, disposable income per capita for women in Asia Pacific (+13.5%), Australasia (+18.2%), Eastern Europe (+16.4%), Latin America (+13%), Middle East/Africa (+9.3%), North America (+4.1) and Western Europe (+8.3%) increased in all markets in 2011 over 2010.
Additionally, those increases are a higher than gains in annual disposable income per capita by males during the same period, except in Latin America (13.6% male to 13% female) where the annual disposable income for men is 0.6% higher than that of women.
“Women’s status in many countries is altering with the historical roles of women changing as their buying power grows and the perceived role of women expands beyond caregiver and mother to working women, despite sustained income gaps between the sexes,” Michelle Grant, Euromonitor’s travel and tourism research manager, and Daphne Kasriel, Euromonitor’s consumer research editor, wrote in an email.
Seeking a valued experience
Women are travel influencers because they’re “more involved in household spending decisions,” Grant and Kasriel said. “Today, price, fashion and convenience are key purchasing drivers for female consumers, and this very much applies to the hospitality industry, too.”
Female consumers seek value and “experience-led consumption,” they said, adding that self-treating like this is something “hotels are well placed to provide.”
Peter Yesawich, vice chairman of MMGY Global, a travel-marketing firm, said approximately 47% of women in a sample of 1,000 female travelers are traveling for business. “Years ago it was one-third of that,” he said, “but that makes sense because you have a lot more women in the workforce.”
In a travel preference survey conducted by MMGY Global in February/March of this year, which polled 2,174 active male and female U.S. travelers (1,174 male travelers and 1,000 female travelers), female travelers weigh the value of a hotel over male travelers. Value for price (92% female to 87% male), location of the hotel (90% female to 85% male), previous experience (89% female to 83% male), free Internet access (77% female to 73% male), free breakfast included in the room rate (77% female to 69% male) and guest points for each stay (55% female to 48% male) are a few of the important attributes female travelers seek when choosing a hotel.
“(Female travelers) are more concerned about value and more of these complimentary amenities,” he said.
“Perks such as flexible check-in/check-out times, value packages for other family members, childcare provisions, would attract more female travelers,” Grant and Kasriel said.
A travel influencer
With an increase in discretionary income and with women seeking out amenities that offer value, marketing to this segment is “very important because (women) often make leisure travel decisions for their families,” Bonnie Campagnuolo, senior director of resorts and product marketing for Hilton Hotels & Resorts, said.
“We find that women are making the spending decisions for family vacations, girlfriend getaways and other personal travel, so it’s critical for our brand to reach this audience across several platforms,” she said.
Hilton’s first foray into marketing to women came in 1963 when it established its first department of women’s services. By 1965, this evolved into Lady Hilton, the brand’s first concept designed for the female traveler, whichincluded female-only floors and in-room amenities geared toward the traveling woman of that era, Campagnuolo said.
This trend is making a comeback today with the Nuami Hotel Singapore, the Premier Hotel in New York and the Dukes Hotel London, among others, offering women-only floors with amenities including cosmetic mirrors, hair-styling appliances and women’s magazines.
“A lot of hoteliers offer accommodations uniquely outfitted for women,” Yesawich said.
“Overall, marketing strategists would be wise to appeal to time-pressed women juggling various roles including childcare and work, and make their offering as convenient as possible,” Grant and Kasriel said.
Hilton Hotels & Resorts is maximizing their marketing efforts to female travelers by offering packages at their various properties. At the Hilton Sedona Resort & Spa a “Girlfriends Getaway” package is available; Hilton Surfers Paradise in Australia created the “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” package; and the “Feast for Fashion” contest chooses one winner and a guest to travel to New York for a weekend of fashion and food at a Hilton Hotels & Resorts property.
Haack said that when marketing to female travelers the focus at Terranea Resort is on imagery.
“We try not to use imagery or vocabulary that makes (a woman’s) life sound hurried or crazy,” she said. “We speak in a language that says, ‘We know you’re totally in control. Let us help you with this one piece to get it off your list.’”