What do women travellers look for in travel experiences?
Research by Booking.com highlights the preferences and plans of solo women travellers in 2020, revealing valuable clues about how to meet their needs. What do solo women travellers want that partners can provide?
Adventure, local culture and no age limits
The research shows 22% of women surveyed* expressing a desire to be more adventurous when choosing a destination, with 31% indicating they want to be immersed in local cultures and customs. Partners with accommodations in unusual locations may find it easier to point out adventurous activities, but nearly all can provide information about local activities and events. The key may be in providing guests with suggestions that resonate with women.
For example, the top destination endorsements by solo female travellers who left a review on the platform include local food, architecture, city walks and ambience. This data dovetails with the most-booked destinations on the platform by female solo travelers in 2019, which included Moscow, Bangkok, Taipei and São Paolo - all walkable cities full of unique local food and architectural wonders. When you combine these two data points, it’s easy to see how offering - or connecting guests to - a walking tour tailored to women could be a formula for success.
When it comes to reaching solo women, age isn’t an overriding concern because the trend cuts across generations. Almost a third of Gen Z women surveyed say they prefer to be alone when they travel and 34% are considering at least one solo trip in the coming decade. But it also is a trend for Baby Boomers, with 40% surveyed in 2018 reporting they had taken a solo trip in the past year, and a further 21% saying they planned to take a trip alone in the future.
Offering women-friendly rooms
Some partners distinguish their accommodations with rooms designed for both safety and comfort. “While it’s also important for men to feel safe while travelling, we have noticed that it plays a more prominent role for female travellers,” says Sandra Dreher, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Leonardo Hotels Central Europe.
To meet both of those needs, the hotel chain created women-friendly rooms by interviewing female travellers to find out how a hotel room should be designed and equipped. “All of our women-friendly rooms are on one floor, and only female employees carry out room service,” says Dreher. In addition to offering special amenities in the rooms, the hotel designates parking spots for women and has a discreet check-in policy that avoids voicing room numbers. “This is a matter of course these days but it also gives our guests a good feeling.”
After safety, partners may want to focus on providing comfort. Having access to quality toiletries, slippers and robes are comforts that both men and women can appreciate, but some partners make it a point to offer amenities geared just for women.
“Female solo travellers want to find a modern, stylish retreat where they feel comfortable from the start and that invites them to relax,” explains Dreher. That relaxation can be encouraged by offering luxury amenities. “Our well-lit bathrooms with amenities like fluffy bathrobes and a power hair dryer have been particularly well received.”
Styling rooms with luxury touches may not be an option for all partners, but any accommodation provider can follow the lead of Leonardo Hotels and offer thoughtful touches like jogging maps of local areas. Another low-cost, high-impact way to make solo women travellers’ stay better? Offer anything that caters to a good night’s sleep: quiet rooms, total darkness, sleep masks and even herbal teas.
Hostel territory: promoting community
Making solo female travellers feel comfortable socially can also lead to a superior guest experience. In this respect, partners can learn from hostels, a segment that has often been linked to making guests feel a sense of community and belonging.
Malin Widmarc-Nilsson, Head of Commerce at Meininger Hotels, a hybrid hotel/hostel, echoes how safety is a priority for women travellers but this is followed closely by concerns around loneliness. She says travellers with a strong desire to share an adventure with others may simply need the space, and a small word of encouragement, to take advantage of built-in community. “Our guest kitchen and spacious public areas offer the opportunity to meet new people and connect with like-minded solo travellers.”
Meininger Hotels also offers guests “Fun Facts” about local areas that call out unique cultures and customs that just beg to be explored - alone or with new friends.
* Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 22,000 adults who have taken a trip in the last 12 months/plan to take a trip in the next 12 months. Respondents completed an online survey between 9th August to 28th August 2019.
- Research shows women travellers expressing a desire to be more adventurous and be immersed in local cultures and customs
- Women travellers are looking for destinations rich in details they often endorse in reviews: local food, city walks, architectural wonders and ambience
- Women-only hotel floors and amenities geared specifically for their needs are popular, as are amenities designed for better sleep
- Communal areas and social connections with local communities, as often delivered by hostels, can offer added appeal