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Forbes Travel Guide 2024: Intentionally Elevating Equality in Luxury Hospitality

The Forbes Travel Guide (FTG) recently announced the 2024 Star Award Winners and is about to host their annual Summit in Las Vegas, and among the more than 2,000 properties worldwide that have been recognized, many of these award-winners are led by women! Evidence that the tide is turning toward gender equality in hospitality.

According to recent data from the AHLA, women now hold one in four of all chief-level positions at hotel companies, and the ratio shrinks to two to one at the director level in operations. Progress is not accidental.

At the forefront of moving luxury travel toward a more equitable future, Amanda Frasier, President of Ratings, FTG, explains how and why gender related topics have been incorporated into this year’s conference: “When we plan our agenda, we start by taking a broad look at everything from audience feedback and internal input. Of course, we look ahead to where things are moving for our industry in terms of trends and cultural shifts in society, especially in the business of luxury, and seek to find the best-in-class solutions and thought leadership to inspire our attendees each year.” 

This year’s Summit includes expert-led diversity-themed workshops on topics from “Women in Leadership” to “Navigating Gender Diversity.” The mix of presenters represents thought leadership from a variety of different viewpoints, all with the same common goal: to elevate the guest experience and to provide insight to attendees that make them better individuals, employees, employers, businesses. Amanda adds, “How you treat people, staff and guests is the differentiator between good businesses and great businesses. It is what can set you apart because the culture established from the top is ultimately what defines the experience.”

Amanda Frasier Forbes travel guide

Inclusivity and FTG Star Ratings

“What we are really looking for is if the property has thought about the more custom needs of all guest types.” Amanda explains further, “for those who wear makeup, the provision of makeup-removing products and great lighting for makeup application are always delightful to find, and less common than you think. In other cases, we want to know if the guest was “extremely comfortable” in this room. That will mean different things to different guests. For women, especially when you travel alone, it can mean when staff members knock at your door, they don’t announce your name out loud in the hallway.”

Gender-Based Design Considerations for Hotels 

From a design perspective, FTG has thought through the fact that how a woman gets ready is very different from that of a man.  Amanda notes, “when you are moving around a well-designed room, the placement of outlets, vanities, dressing areas and makeup areas, even the mirrors, should all feel “frictionless.” I am often in a hotel room where there is no full-length mirror in a suitable area, or dim light in the dressing area.”

As for her personal wishes, “I would like the ability to see who is at the door without walking to a keyhole to become a more common feature. During a recent hotel stay in Japan, the room was designed with the ability for staff to pick up and drop off your laundry and pressing without even coming into your accommodation. It was very discreet.”

Holistic Approach to Service Excellence and Employee Well-being

In the realm of unforgettable travel experiences, it's the people, more than the design elements, who bring these moments to life. Recognizing this, Forbes Travel Guide (FTG) has placed a significant emphasis on employee well-being within its training programs. The demanding nature of the hospitality industry, characterized by shift work, late hours, and often unpredictable schedules, underscores the importance of this focus. Amanda cites recent data from the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), noting that "67% of hotels in the U.S. alone are facing staffing challenges, with 80% raising wages and 33% expanding their benefits packages. Housekeeping emerges as the most critical department in need of support." Highlighting the need for a unified approach where healthcare providers and hospitality collaborate to gain advancements in employee wellness.

“Given that women constitute the majority of caregivers at home, offering easier and quicker access to preventative healthcare for female employees presents a significant opportunity for businesses to support their workforce effectively,” adds Amanda. This holistic view of service delivery and employee wellness is the key to fostering a supportive and inclusive workplace.

Look out for our next interview with five female leaders on creating a culture of Forbes Travel Guide award-winning service.  


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