What’s next? Pink planes?

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As you  may have read in this weekend’s US Today, American Airlines has launched a gender-specific are of its website, aimed at women.

Here’s what they say on the home page of this female-focused site.  " Welcome to American Airlines AA.com/women – the airline industry’s first web page dedicated to women who travel. This web page is about you – our valued customer. We’ve listened to women and recognized the need to provide additional information tailored to your business and pleasure travel needs and lifestyle. We also invite you to share insights, travel tips and stories by submitting them to wehearyou@aa.com."

I don’t get it.  Of the 18 hot links on the home page, only 2 of them seem women-specific.  One is girlfriend getaways and the other is the safety tab.  Couldn’t both of those have existed on the core page?

I guess this remind me of my pink tools post.  I am let wondering why and as a man, wondering if women aren’t insulted by being segregated out when really travel is a humbling equalizer for all of us.

What do you think?  Good idea or bad?  If you were in charge of this web presence — how would you actually make it valuable to women?

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17 comments on “What’s next? Pink planes?

  1. Hannah says:

    Yeah I definitely agree with you- I think in this day and age where we’re supposed to be equal, there’s no need to seperate the men and women- even if it is putting us on a pedestal. The don’t need a seperate page on their website, they just need to listen to their customer and find out what the women’s needs are that differ from the men…if any.

  2. David Reich says:

    There’s always the risk of offending the very people you are trying to reach by doing something that’s gender-specific. If it’s done well, it can work. But everything must be genuinely for women here, or it will come off as pandering.

    There was a similar discussion a couple of weeks ago on MP DailyFix, with the author questioning the need for Forbes to come out with a magazine aimed specifically at women in business. Many women commenters thought there was no need, since women in biusniess are businesspeople above all, and would have the same interestes and issues as men in business. I disagreed, saying there are some issues that women face in business that men don’t, andthat a well-done magazine could indeed address specific needs opf women in business.

    Possibly it’s the same for women travelers. American Airlines could be on the right track, as long as they don’t “pink” it too much.

  3. I don’t get this either – actually looks like a half-assed concept. Why not reach out the something like the Blogher network. Provide some interesting real world perspectives.

    Do you have the link to the article?

  4. Beth says:

    I don’t have an issue with the existence of the site, but am less than impressed with the content.

    If they’re going to market to this segment, they need to provide useful content. Sorry, but I can find book lists and links to female business networks elsewhere.

  5. Sherry Borzo says:

    Blogher Matt. I like that. Very cute.

    I guess from AA’s perspective they think they’re hitting a bankable demographic but it’s unfortunate that a large institution with marketing experts can’t do a better job of execution.

    Personally I don’t think i would go seeking specific info for women as it relates to flight travel but I have lots of friends of a “certain age” in my demographic population who might be all over it.

    Now on a side note, I do go to women’s groups for several things and I really appreciate the focus. My husband always thinks this is a nuts though. He says, “Why does it have to be a women’s spiritual group?” for example. I always retort, “Because we’re women silly!”

  6. Janet Green says:

    I’m with Sherry in that I don’t think there’s really a “women’s side” to travel. A person travels alone, or with friends, or with family, either for business or for pleasure… but not because of their sex.

    It’s telling to note that we could remove the word “women” from just about anywhere on the American Airlines site, and be left with plenty of relevant, useful information for either sex. Here’s a specific example – under “Women Connected Through Business,” there’s a link that talks about “Women Business Owners” being able to save money through the Business ExtrAA program. But you go to that page, and there’s nothing gender-specific at all about the program – it’s open to all business owners, as it should be.

    In fact, most of the information in the women’s section seems to merely be links to existing site content with the word “woman” added somewhere.

    Pointing us to the same content tells us that the information is not really unique to women. There is literally no reason at all to have a separate “women’s portal” on this website. American should just make the pages they’re steering us to easy to find in the first place – for women AND for men.

  7. David Reich says:

    The New York Times had a column about this yesterday, andthey interviewed a number of women travelers. While some said the idea itself is not bad, the content on the AA site, which I have not looked at, is evidently pedestrian and fluff.

    I think sites targeted by gender can work, but only if there’s real meat in the content that makes it truly relevant and useful to those people. Judging feedback I’m reading, the AA site fails in the area.

    If I were at AA, I’d see about taking the site down, letting visitors know it’s being retooled based on customer feedback, and then quickly fix it, involving customers in that retooling. Otherwise, with all the negative that’s come out already, they’re dead in the water with this.

  8. Dan says:

    wehearyou@aa.com but aintlistening@aa.com

    What the heck kind of milquetoast pandering is this? Aren’t we all granted an equal opportunity to partake of their 3-stale-pretzel in-flight meals and flat sodas (on flights of four hours or more… some restrictions may apply).

    The great thing about airline travel is that it neuters us all. A poorly branded “woman traveler” site for American Airlines is about as useful as an “Affluent Cross-Country Bus Traveler” site for Greyhound.

    There’s just no need.

    Perhaps AA ranks low among the female demographic. This website isn’t going to fix that.

  9. Hannah,

    What I find oddest of all is that if they’re going to have a page dedicated to women — wouldn’t you think they’d the content (or at least most of it) actually designed for women?

    Drew

  10. David,

    I remember the MP Daily Fix post. I think I commented on it as well.

    You mention “if they don’t pink it too much.”

    If anything, I think that’s my beef. I think having a separate site is silly but heck, if you are going to do it — then do it! Then content, with the exception of the girls getaway, could just as easily be of interest to you.

    Makes no sense.

    Drew

  11. Matt,

    Believe it or not, I actually read the article in the printed version of the paper!

    But I was able to find the link on their site.

    http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2007-04-12-american-female-fliers-website_N.htm?csp=34

    Drew

  12. Beth,

    Yes…that’s my reaction as well. As I said earlier, I think the whole thing is a little silly but if you are going to do it — then don’t just dip your toe in the water. Dive in, head first!

    Drew

  13. Sheri,

    I agree — there is a time and place for gender specific programming or marketing. I have no beef with that.

    I guess in the end I am disappointed because they did it so badly — not because they did it at all.

    Drew

  14. Janet,

    Does it add insult to injury, from a woman’s perspective that they make a big deal about making a separate page and then the content is not aimed at women?

    Sort of like a shell game?

    Drew

  15. David,

    So if they were your client — would you advise them to bring it back up but with better content or just leave it down?

    Drew

  16. Dan,

    “”A poorly branded “woman traveler” site for American Airlines is about as useful as an “Affluent Cross-Country Bus Traveler” site for Greyhound.””

    Love that line! Do you think it can be saved or should they just fold up the tent and go home?

    Drew

  17. Janet Green says:

    Drew, I try not to be easily insulted – LOL – so I will just say that it feels like they squandered the opportunity to do this well. I mean, my whole point is that they didn’t need to do it at all. There *is* no content from AA that can be aimed at women as far as I’m personally concerned – as others have pointed out, travel is a kind of equalizer. Apparently they didn’t hear that message in their research. I’m okay with the page existing, but I’ll never use it.

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