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Sex and the City at the Thailand Tourism Forum

Hotels are like men,” explained Wimintra Jangnin, CEO of Hotelintel.co. “They don’t try hard enough to understand women.” Admittedly it’s not always easy to understand women, but in the final session at the Thailand Tourism Forum 2018 held at the InterContinental Bangkok, Wimintra revealed the key insights from her recent survey of female travelers, and threw in a few helpful tips for bemused male hoteliers.

Hotelintel.co originally sought opinions from a broad cross-section of non-Thai female respondents. We wanted to know how these ladies perceive Bangkok, what they like to do when they travel, what turns them off a hotel or destination, how they make their travel decisions, and much, much more. The findings shattered a few misconceptions, confirmed some long-held suspicions, threw up a surprise or two – and included the occasional piece of female logic:

What are the four hotel-room items that women don’t use? Mini-bar, bathtub, phone, and television. But don’t you dare think of taking them out! We need them. We’re not gonna use them, but they need to be there. We’re women!”

The whole concept of taking women’s views into account is actually deadly serious – previous studies have shown that women take up to 70% of all decisions related to travel and tourism, spending over USD 20 trillion annually. It is fair to say that today’s average travel consumer is female – and a fair proportion of these ladies think hotels could be doing a better job of catering to their demands.

In some cases, pleasing the female clientele can be as simple as providing a more feminine range of amenities in the bathrooms. That’s just common sense, and our findings showed a generally high level of satisfaction with hotels at the luxury end of the market, probably because two of the top three bugbears for women are a lack of cleanliness and poor service – which really shouldn’t be an issue in the 5-star properties. The other big no-no is a lack of free Wi-Fi.

Sometimes, however, it’s not so obvious; how many hotels actually provide adequate lighting in their rooms? When it comes to putting on make-up, think theater dressing room illumination. As Wimintra pointed out to the men in the audience, “Getting those foundation colors just right is way harder than shaving, and you wouldn’t try that in the dark.”

Lattice-design lounge chairs also came in for criticism. “Stop it with your weavy furniture!” she ordered. “Women don’t want waffle legs! Sit on that and your legs have lines everywhere, ruining your photos.”

More specific requirements came from mothers, who placed a high value upon the space to wash clothes and hang them to dry. Drying racks in bathrooms can make a big difference, and while we’re on the subject, Wimintra added that sound-proof, odor-proof bathrooms can work wonders for a girl’s confidence. “Male partners don’t need evidence of what’s going on in there… and there’d better be a good lock on the door too.”

When it comes to visiting Bangkok, the city makes a good impression overall, despite its dirt and traffic. Although Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore are still perceived as Asia’s leading megacities, fast-growing Bangkok easily makes the top five. While its shopping and dining potential were mentioned by more than two-thirds of our respondents, it may come as a shock to learn that massage and spa treatments were not considered a major reason to come to Bangkok, with fewer than one in ten female visitors choosing to indulge.

Researching a place to stay usually involves TripAdvisor (48%) and Booking.com (25%), and a majority of those stays (74%) are in the Siam or Lower Sukhumvit areas. Written customer reviews influence 82% of women, while 56% are also prepared to listen to recommendations from friends. Around 90% of our sample group had visited Bangkok; 80% of these have been more than once, while around half could be described as frequent visitors.

The final point that kept coming up, and it’s a tricky one to deal with, is the question of safety and security. Only one respondent ticked the “safety” box when choosing factors that influence their choice of hotel – yet more than half mentioned personal safety when asked what hotels could improve.

In Bangkok, they wanted hotels to help in calling licensed taxis and making sure the driver used the meter. They also suggested that staff could offer advice about which places are safe to visit, and where you need to be on your guard, especially at night. The problem, of course, is that it’s highly subjective: “be aware of your surroundings” doesn’t mean there’s a mugger round every corner – just as “it’s pretty safe” doesn’t mean there definitely won’t be a mugger round the next one.

Confused? We were, so we got back in touch with some of our respondents to ask them exactly what they meant when they said hotels could do better on security, but well, you know… they couldn’t tell us. Women!

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