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When people, both male and female, talk anecdotally about pubs, hotels etc they rarely ever adopt the depth or the language that industry speak produces. People do not dive deep to analyze and assess why they enjoyed a place, they just did or did not, as the case may be. In other words, there are two clear interpretations as to what analysis might mean. One, the customer expressing how they felt (external) and two, the industry analyzing the offer (internal). Whilst industry folk may become over analytical about what makes a place attractive they can also loose sight of the simplicity of the challenge. A satisfied consumer really just needs to leave and say ..that was a great night and that was a great place. In a sense, the challenge lies in that comment, how to make people make that remark.

Making a place Female Friendly is an example of industry speak loosing sight of the challenge. Try using the term to a non industry person and you will quickly see a raised and confused eyebrow.What people are trying to say with this rather vague definition is make the place a destination for females and that`s 50% of the market. Oh, and incidentally, the remaining testosterone fuelled 50% will quickly follow. Again, in over engineering solutions to attract females, feminine toilets, mood lighting, good soap, safety, warmth, appropriate menus and appropriate brands, etc etc many operators are fast loosing sight of the customer as a person rather than as a gender. Whether you are male or female in one sense, does not matter. We all judge the night out through a much broader and more complex set of needs. Many of these are sensory, intuitive and instinctive rather than simple, material and obvious. Listen to the language that describes the perfect night out...."it was a brilliant place"...."such a lovely atmosphere"...."really good night in there" Therefore, just creating obvious "female hooks" is shallow and not enough. Yes, it will have an impact but no, putting nice perfume in the ladies is not the key to reinventing and exciting the female market.

Design companies focus on the material elements that influence females. That has a role, but only a small part. Drinks companies focus on brands. That too has a role, but only plays a part. The same with menus,coffee, wine,entertainment,and the same with many other classic female friendly standard solutions. All these things are part of a complex subliminal jigsaw but in themselves, they will not attract and satisfy a female focused market.

What is missing is "the experience". It should be assumed that all of the above, brands, design, food are there. To make the real difference you need to look back at where pubs came from and how people relate their experience.

Today pubs are often spoken of in terms of drinks, brands,price, design, trends, press, legislation and so on. This misses the point and it misses one key point. There are very very few institutions in life that you do not have to go in to at some point. The pub is an exception. If that is so, you must look at the reasons people go. It takes us back to where they started, a centre of socializing, a village,a refuge, an oasis, an escape, a community. People went to pubs to meet people. The role of the pub was quite simply to facilitate that. Today is no different. We still go out of choice rather than need. Therefore, be it a man or woman, the decision making process is simple and will ultimately be an..."I just like the place"...decision. What really makes people say these magic, hard to define, words? simple, how operators and staff treat their customers! What is not analyzed enough in attracting the customer is the entire "people experience". If we believe that a lot of the decisions to go to pubs are sensory and emotional, then the only way these are delivered are through people. Often, in a formal or commercial setting, if you ask someone what they thought of Mr. or Mrs. X, the first thing they will often say is "I liked him/her".

In many ways this is absolutely irrelevant to the question because the assessment was about their suitability.It teaches us something though. It teaches us that these are primary instincts when assessing our pub and destination choices. We have all been to pubs superbly designed with no atmosphere. We have all been to dingy pubs with great atmosphere. The common thread is people making up the atmosphere, both operator and customer.

So, to make a place "female friendly" it must first be about investing in staff, as individuals and through training.Then understand and re learn the noble art of welcoming, smiling, serving and understanding the value of making each and every customer "feel special". This is a non gender thing, it is a people thing.

Many years ago people went to pubs because they offered a better environment to home. They offered a welcome, a smile, acknowledgement and an interest in who you were.The rest played a part but was not so important. Today, those original values would be a good starting point in making any pub "female friendly."

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