The Delhi gangrape case in December 2012 came as a shock to millions of women, who have to travel out of their homes-be it to their workplaces or travel outside their hometowns. It brought them face to face with the hidden dangers that women face across India. For women with careers, it was a wake-up call of sorts.
Mridula Khanna, a mid-level corporate executive who lives in Gurgaon works at a multinational firm, has to travel out for at least 10 days in a month — and the recent instances of violence against women in the National Capital Region has shaken her. She is even looking at an option to switch jobs and settle with an offer that would trim down her travel.
As fear and caution sweet working women across India with travelling jobs, the nation's hospitality industry and associated businesses like taxi services have woken up to the security needs of women, with special measures to make their guests and customers feel safer.
The concern is based on sound market logic. Career women at all levels have started travelling more frequently on work in the last three to four years and the trend is expected to accelerate further over the next 10 years.
Officials of leading hotels said they have initiated specific measures for single lady travelers by offering them female escorts and chauffeurs for airport pick-ups and drops, lady butlers in the rooms.
“Single women travellers are a very valued segment and we have taken extra special care to make them feel secure and comfortable during their stays,” said Rajiv Kaul, President, The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts. “At our hotels, we have incorporated specific safety measures to empower single lady guests as they enjoy our private and public spaces. Recently, we have also added special services, facilities and amenities at The Leela Palace New Delhi to make them feel valued and safe.”
While some hotels have dedicated floors for the women, many have started providing women guests single rooms near lifts, with female security agents and housekeeping staff. The room numbers of women guests are disclosed only in the room after they check in. Several hotels have set up separate women’s wings with video doors and phone facilities.
“We pay special attention and care towards single lady travellers for instance, they are given rooms that are closer to the elevator and care is taken to ensure a single lady should not be allocated a room with an interconnecting door to the adjoining room. We also offer a lady butler for women travelers to assist lady travellers with their every need,” said a spokesperson for the Oberoi Group of Hotels.
Rahul Pandit, CEO, Lemon Tree Hotels, said it is crucial to ensure the safety of the single women traveler.” Towards this, we constantly try and take steps and review them if they are working”
For women taking cabs to their workplace, the service providers are enhancing safety measures.
“New safety initiatives such as continuous tracking of cabs via GPS and GPRS systems will provide the much-needed safety assurance especially to our women commuters and their families,” said Siddhartha Pahwa, CEO, Meru Cabs, India’s largest radio cab service provider.
“If the traveler is a female, we provide her extra safety. After 7 p.m., all female reservations are tracked through a dedicated desk at our call centers,” said Sakshi Vij, vice-president, corporate marketing and business development at Carzonrent India, which runs Easy Cabs.
Vij said that due to insecurity on Delhi roads, taxi services were taking various initiatives such as seeking the gender of traveller when customers book cabs.
(With inputs from Himani Chandna Gurtoo)