Currently close to 50 per cent of the business travel market is composed of women, a dramatic change over the past decade.
In addition, women travelling with women to far-flung destinations like Bali and other places has become a significant and expanding segment of the travel market. Tour operators, hotels, and resorts are beginning to recognize this reality and are adapting quickly to their travel needs and concerns.
This week's column will address some of these changes.
QUESTION: I will soon be starting to do extensive travel on behalf of my company and quite frankly am somewhat concerned about how, as a woman, I can minimize some of the safety and security issues I have read about. Suggestions?
ANSWER: There is much that you can do. Let me start with the check-in process at the hotels where you will be staying.
Ask for a room near the elevators. Long winding hallways can e troublesome and while hotels do their best to keep non guest from entering, the reality is there is little real security during the day on floors that do not have key access only.
Ask the person who is checking you in to write down your room number and not announce it to you aloud. I have noticed more properties doing this now as a matter of course, but it is not yet a universal hotel policy.
You don't want other people gathered around the check in counter to know your room number, or which floor you are on for that matter.
Even if you have only a small carry-on as luggage, it is a good idea to have the bell captain escort you to your room. If you are feeling insecure in your environment do not feel embarrassed about asking for the service every time you enter.
Since they likely have your full name on the credit card imprint you are required to leave with the hotel, fill in only your initial of your first name on the guest card, and omit the Mrs., Miss, Ms check-off squares entirely.
In Europe and other countries you are often expected to leave your room key behind each time you leave the property.
When you are staying in these places do not leave the key on the counter and walk away. Wait until a front desk person is available and hand the key directly to him or her and watch them put it away.
QUESTION: I travel a lot for business and find the hotels around the world still keep catering to a male-dominated travel market.
Are there chains or individual hotels that are beginning to understand the needs of the women traveller?
ANSWER: While still in its early stages, hotels have really began to recognize the importance of the women's travel market. A number of them have actually created floors for women travelers only. These key access floors, in addition to making it more secure for women, have different amenities than those found in other rooms catering to mixed and male clientele.
They often place better-quality hair dryers in these rooms. They frequently provide a greater variety, and a higher quality range of cosmetic products whose brands are recognized and appreciated by women.
More research is being done by the accommodations industry to identify what women want in accommodation, and the progressive chains are responding to the data they receive.
Apparently because women place a higher value on cleanliness than men do so, some hotels have installed curved curtain rods instead of the traditional straight ones. This was something I would not have appreciated until I experienced the extra shower space when staying at Vancouver's Pan Pacific Hotel only a couple of weeks ago. The new Hampton Inn properties have also moved to that style of shower as well.
Interestingly, some hotels are actually placing female-oriented reading material, whatever that is, in the rooms of women-only floors.
Some also have changed the quality of the robes and slippers and added better lighting in the bathrooms and skirt hangers in closets to accommodate women.
QUESTION: Recognizing that common sense may be my best protection as a woman who travels, are there any concrete tips you might have to make excursions into major cities more secure?
ANSWER: There are a number of points I would suggest you consider.
Firstly, dress appropriate to the country you are in. Not just women, but tourists often stand out by their apparel that seems not to fit naturally into the environment they are in.
You are less likely to be bothered if you look like a local. Carry a local magazine as a prop, even if it is in a language that you don't understand.
Walk with confidence at all times, always appearing like you have always been there and know your way around. As often as possible stay close to families when you are out walking. The family group is not likely to be bothered nor is anyone who is always near them and never isolated.
While it is always important to hide currency and documents in some form of money belt, remember that it is not a purse.
Going into a money belt should only be done in privacy. The minute you do so publicly you are the focus of attention as a tourist since most locals do not carry such security devices.
Forward your travel questions to firstname.lastname@example.org . Ron Pradinuk is president of Journeys Travel & Leisure SuperCentre and can be heard Sundays at noon on CJOB. Previous columns and tips can be found on www.journeystravelgear.com or read Ron's travel blog at www.thattravelguy.ca