Eating out alone can often be awkward for women who are forced into making a reservation for one while travelling on business.
But Invite For A Bite, a two-month-old UK-based website, offers a matchmaking-type service that aims to connect solo female travellers with one another in order to dine in the company of other women.
Cressida Howard launched the virtual meeting space after hearing a radio segment about how much women hate eating by themselves while travelling.
Howard, who admits she had never even sent an SMS prior to creating the website, said that as a regular business traveller herself, this was “the site I wanted to join but couldn’t find”.
The site invites women from around the world to post the details of where and when they would like to eat out as well as offer any preferences or special requests. Other women can then respond to the postings, striking up a conversation with like-minded others.
The founder said: “I’m hugely encouraged by the response I’ve had from women.
“One example is a message I received from a lady in Germany who wrote ‘I just remember myself on my latest travels for work sitting in a restaurant alone and would be so happy if those times were over!’.”
Catharine Curran, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, is just one female traveller who has experienced the uncomfortable nature of being forced to eat out alone while on a business trip.
She said: “When I first started travelling, eating alone was the most difficult part. Many of us adapt by eating very early, sitting at the back of the restaurant, bringing a book, or simply ordering room service.”
Howard said that male travellers do not seem to experience the same type of problems. “My husband happily walks into any place in any city for a drink or some food,” she said. “Why do I scurry in and act like a lunatic?”
Men have been banned from the website in order to ensure women feel comfortable while building new friendships.
“As soon as you introduce the idea of men and women meeting for meals, it becomes almost impossible to distinguish it from a dating site,” Howard said. “This is simply not what most women want when they are travelling on business.
“They want to unwind and have a bit of a laugh or a chat with another woman without worrying that it might be taken the wrong way or that they are putting themselves at risk.”
Howard urged women to “exercise normal caution when meeting people they don’t know”.
She added that women can “check out people’s profiles before you meet them and anyone can be reported or removed from the site before or after an event.” – Daily Mail