Not So Fast Road Warrior
It's past time for hotels to cater to business women: The new hotel room must-have perks
No one can take the place of my partner John Lamar as the Road Warrior. When he shows up at the United Club several times a week he is accorded rock star status, and he has spent more time in hotels than a hotel manager. John recently shared his thoughts in CultureMap on hotel rooms—and where they fall short for the average business traveler.
Not so fast, my friend. Not all business travelers are men, and some of women’s hotel needs differ from men’s. The woman business traveler is, in many respects, an entirely different animal with priorities not on most men’s “must have” list.
Let’s start with where we agree. Hotels cannot have too many plugs. And yes, we women love the pillow menu and reliable Internet connection.
Glass shower doors instead of shower curtains? I don’t know about that. Those glass doors give me claustrophobia. I like a hot bath and I don’t want to feel like I’m in a water well. I agree with you about the clock radios, although I do like to listen to the babbling brook, roaring surf and spring rain that some of the newer models offer.
Here are a few things that some of our female clients and I like.
- Location, location, location. Please do not put us at the end of a long dark hallway. Although we do not want to hear the elevator and raucous laughter of late night partiers, for safety sake we want to be close enough not to be invisible should a security issue arise.
- Mirrors. Hotels should have a full-length mirror that is not inside a closet so that we can make sure in our travel stupor that our shoes match. And although men may not need a magnifying makeup mirror, women do.
- Bathtub. There is a growing trend among hotels to do away with bathtubs. While not all women agree with me on this, I am an unabashed bathtub fan. And the bathtub should have different, clearly labeled knobs for the tub faucet and the shower head. We have all been in the situation where we believe that we are turning on the tub water, only to be drenched by the shower. Last night I rolled into a hotel at midnight craving a bath only to find out the tub stopper is one of those gizmos with a rubber lining you have to turn just so and hope you create suction. After 30 minutes of trying to stuff wash rags to stem the lack of suction and rapidly draining water, I gave up. And how many of you have been tricked by the seemingly deep bathtub only to find out it has a false bottom and in effect is only six inches deep? If you are going to have a bathtub — I am not an infant — at least make it big enough so I can soak in it.
- Hairdryer. Admittedly, some men don’t need a hairdryer — a hand towel will do. Not naming names here. But nothing is worse for a woman than a hairdryer that is attached to the wall with a vacuum cleaner hose that she must pull from the wall to turn on, and doesn’t really put out hot air, just a warm breeze. Also, when I’m trying to get to a 7 a.m. meeting, I don’t want to play the game of “where’s the hair dryer?” Last week I had to call the hotel operator to ask. When the reply is “Oh, everyone calls to ask; it’s in a black bag on the top shelf of the closet in the back right hand corner,” two feet above my fingertips, it is time to move the hairdryer.
- Counter space. In an effort to be trendy and conserve space, many hotels have tres modern sinks that leave not a millimeter of space to place my makeup bag. I am forced to put it on the floor of the bathroom or on the closed toilet seat. Yep, there are lots of opportunities for things to go wrong with this scenario.
- Air Conditioning. Unlike my partner, I do not want to enter a room that doubles as a meat locker. I can always cool a room off but it takes longer to warm it up, and if there is no bathtub in which I can soak in hot water while it does, I am miserable. While we are on the subject of air conditioning, one of our law firm clients says that the international jet lagged traveler needs AC where he or she can adjust the fan from "auto" (which clanks on and off all night), to "low" (which doesn’t)" and that “it should be easy to locate and you shouldn’t need a degree in engineering to adjust it.”
- Coffee Machine. Many women want a coffee machine, with milk in the fridge. As one successful executive lamented “and really, may I have more than one sugar sachet? I might actually want more than one cup of coffee and tea, and I don’t like to be dictated to as to how much sugar I take.”
- Robes. Many business women travel light and don’t want to have to get dressed to answer the door for room service. And we don’t care if the robe is too big or too small just as long as it closes in front.
As managing director of The Alexander Group, Jane Howze spends much of her life in airplanes and hotel rooms.