When to Create a “Women Only” Section

It’s a question I’m asked all the time – “Are you SURE you’re not Jennifer Aniston?” No actually it’s “When do you create a ‘women’s only’ area on your website?’ In other words, when do you create a separate area for women and when do you simply try to accommodate their needs in your main website.

This is the same question many companies are asking about their offline world as well. David Lorenzo found a great example in a new hotel that’s created a whole separate floor for women travelers.

A luxury London hotel has closed a door on men with the launch of an exclusive women-only wing. The five star Grange Cityin Bow, east London, has designed 68 rooms with unique facilities aimed specifically at businesswomen.

The facilities combine pampering and security.

Backlit make up mirrors, sunken baths and illuminated wardrobes are part of the female friendly service which will be staffed by women only.

David has a very insightful take on whether this is a win or not. Including perspective from the male point of view:

 

All of the features described in the article could have an appeal to men as well. I enjoy an illuminated wardrobe and extra security. I could probably do a more thorough job when shaving if I had a back lit mirror. In fact, I may even pay a couple of dollars more for these amenities.

 

Focusing on the women business traveler is a very smart move – this is a demographic that’s growing exponentially. And the amenities are all great, but why segregate her to a separate floor? Will this antagonize the hotel’s male travelers?

 

This goes back to the original question – when do you create a separate area for women, and when do you incorporate her needs into your main store, website, or in this case hotel.

 

There are two reasons to create a separate area:

 

 A woman’s needs are truly different from a man’s, to the point you need to create a whole different product. (think a woman’s section of a hospital for OBGYN)

 Women have been so completely ignored in your industry that having a women only area is a competitive advantage. (this is a little tricky because of the next thing you must look at)

 

One more thing you must keep in mind:

 

 By creating a women only area – are you alienating your male customers, and are you making her feel like she’s being segregated? Does she really want a separate area?

 

In the case of the hotel, I like David’s idea of simply creating an “upgraded floor” and offer it to everyone. Why not make it women only?

 

1) In a hotel room, a woman’s needs are not so entirely different from a man’s that she needs a whole separate room or floor.

2) There is a competitive advantage to catering to women business travelers, and you want to highlight the changes you’ve made to benefit her. But you can convey this is in your marketing, without having to segregate her to a separate area or floor of the hotel.

3) You ARE going to get some flack from guys who may ask for a “men only” section. And how is that female traveler going to feel when she’s traveling with 3 other guys from her company and she’s on a whole separate floor.

 

Yup, I can hear her male coworkers now, “Goodnight Jenny – have fun in your princess tower. Let your hair out the window in the morning and we’ll climb up to join you.” “Why don’t we go over our presentation in Jenny’s room – no – wait, that’s right – no guys allowed – maybe we’ll dress Jerry in a wig and some high heels and send him up.” “What if a woman wants to bring a guy home with her? No go. I guess she can knock on her neighbor’s door and see if she’s interested in a night cap.” At this point ALL the guys are considering putting on wigs and heels as Jenny marches to the nearest telephone, and tells the travel coordinator to pick another hotel.

 

Ok – kind of an extreme example. My guess is there are some women business travelers who would truly love to have a separate floor. But you have to look at the whole picture. When you’re considering an important decision on whether to create a “women only area” whether it’s your website, or your hotel, look at it from the perspective of all your customers.

 

I’m going to put one big fat asterisk at the end here – there may be one reason why it SHOULD be a women only wing – SECURITY. Security is a HUGE issue with women business travelers. Having a floor dedicated to women and staffed with women may have some real security benefits. (any guy on the floor is going to stick out that he doesn’t belong) But there may be other ways to provide top security without having to make it women only.

 

Ok – and a second asterisk – PUBLICITY – I’m sure this hotel is loving the free PR. But once again – looking at the big picture and the long term, is it the best decision?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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14 Responses to When to Create a “Women Only” Section

  1. Men and Women are Different – Sometimes

    Holly Buchanan has a terrific post at Marketing to Women Online that takes a deeper look at offering separate amenities and facilities for women. Her perspective is valuable and right on point. This is a hot topic and a significant

  2. Mary Schmidt says:

    While I wholeheartedly agree re the security factor – the basic idea just smacks of “harem” to me. The poor widdle things have to be protected from the big, bad world. Sends the wrong message (as you so well illustrate above.)

  3. Mary Schmidt says:

    Oh, and I can relate – people are always confusing me with Michelle Pfeiffer 😉

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  11. Design Dyke says:

    Mmm… women only floor, I can live with that! Harem, even better! Sorry… couldn’t resist…

  12. Design Dyke says:

    p.s. Just realised how old this post is… dunno why it’s showing up in my reader today?

  13. Design Dyke says:

    p.s. Just realised how old this post is… dunno why it’s showing up in my reader today?

  14. Kaycie says:

    Very true! Makes a change to see somenoe spell it out like that. 🙂

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