My dear wife was reading John Gray’s 1993 classic book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus (you know the one, the bestseller, with 7 million or more copies in print), and it got me wondering: Are hotels and resorts different? Just think about it. They truly are. Yet, for some strange reason we tend to lump them together as simply, “the hotel industry.”
Hotels are the “male” of the accommodation genus. Typically, hotels are usually comprised of a single, multi-story (one might even say phallic!) structure. Guest stays are short, efficient and with a sense of purpose, such as a business meeting.
Resorts are clearly their “female” counterpart, with the building structures softer, often curvier, encompassing a larger footprint. Resorts are more complex in terms of their amenities, typically including elaborate spas, golf courses and even marinas or beaches. Guest stays are more leisurely with a much higher average night’s stay. I could go on with more metaphors, but you get the physical parallels.
As in John Gray’s bestseller, males and females are acclimated to their own planet's society and customs, but not those of the other. One of the ways Gray believes the genders can be understood in terms of purported differences is how they behave under stress. How true of our industry!
In the book, Gray believes many men withdraw until they find a solution to the problem. He refers to this as "retreating into their cave." In some cases they may literally retreat — for example, to the garage or to spend time with friends. The point of retreating is to take time to determine a solution. This behavior is consistent with most hotel marketing strategies. When a problem is faced regarding occupancy, the retreat typically comprises a rate reduction, as if this is the only tool available to solve the immediate challenge.
Gray holds that when women are stressed, their natural reaction is to talk about issues, even if talking does not immediately solve the problem. The parallel holds true for resorts, where occupancy issues are rarely addressed through simple rate strategies, but rather through a more complex program that is driven by their multi-faceted product offering. The ultimate solution is not immediate and usually involves discussions among the many departments, with all providing input into a collective solution.
More broadly speaking, ask yourself who is booking your property. My experience shows that the bulk of hotel reservations are made by men, with the opposite holding true for resorts. This may be a function of the type of stay involved; however, your reservations and online live chat staff should clearly recognize this.
Perhaps Mr. Gray’s book should be dusted off for a re-read?
(Article by Larry Mogelonsky, published in HOTELSMag on April 13, 2012)