How to Cater to the Solo Female Traveler
Keep guest security and safety a top priority.
Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, a memoir detailing her solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, was a best-seller in 2013 and a popular feature film the following year. As it turns out, Strayed’s journey is part of a larger trend: According to Booking.com’s August 2014 Solo Travel Report, 72 percent of American women surveyed had taken trips on their own in the previous 12 months. Kate Mahone, marketing director for social travel app Zipskee, explains why solo travel is growing among women, and how resorts can cater to this demographic.
“Not only are women more inspired than ever to live their best lives and ‘do it all,’ ” Mahone says, but also “we have so many apps and resources at our fingertips that make solo travel safer and more accessible than it typically was in the past.” In addition to Zipskee, which connects travelers going it alone, sites such as JourneyWoman and EDiplomat share information like modesty requirements or the meaning of gestures in various cultures so that women are prepared for different social norms.
“Women traveling alone are focused on maximizing fun and enjoyment without sacrificing safety or security,” Mahone says. Some properties are responding: The Hamilton Crowne Plaza, in Washington, D.C., offers a female-friendly floor with exclusive elevator-key access. Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels are designed with female travelers in mind, with security features such as doors that divide rooms in half (to separate guests from anyone delivering room service or luggage), door peepholes and well-lit corridors. Rooms also have more closet space, better vanity lighting and a makeup drawer for convenience.
Customer service is equally important. For example, train staff not to announce a woman’s room number aloud at the reception desk where anyone can overhear. Another tip: Don’t ask why a woman is traveling alone. Doing so implies she needs to justify her decision. “Make women feel welcome and comfortable,” Mahone says. “If they do, chances are they’ll be back.”
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