January 23, 2020
By Laura Fredericks

Want more business travelers to make your hotels their home base for work trips? You’ve got to listen to this on-the-go demographic—and respond to their asks.

Today’s business guests aren’t shy about sharing their expectations for booking, amenities, restaurants, and rooms. Nimble hospitality professionals are capitalizing on this feedback, making slight tweaks and significant investments in facilities and services to grab a piece of this market expected to reach $1,657 billion by 2023. Read on to learn the operational areas business travelers care about, and get tips and strategies to draw and sustain their loyalty. 

Prioritize seamless hotel booking with technology

Business travelers view travel as an experience, with multiple elements adding up to form a positive (or negative) view of the trip and its outcomes. They are also pressed for time and gravitate toward convenience and efficiency, especially when it comes to booking a room. 

1. Simplify your business travel booking and payment options. 

According to a recent study by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and SAP, over two-thirds of travelers book hotels themselves or through online travel agencies. With this in mind, hotels need to convert visitors to their website or booking sites into paying guests in a few clicks without the need to book a reservation via phone or email. 

2. Use artificial intelligence-infused chatbots. 

These machine-learning tools answer guest questions 24/7/365—and they never get tired. Chatbots improve the guest experience by letting visitors know when their rooms are ready, and giving them information about a hotel yoga class, as well as local events and offerings. 

Over time, chatbots provide valuable data about your guests, and their common interests and requests. If a large portion of your guests ask about high-end restaurants in the area, you can include that in reservation confirmation emails. Do conference attendees ask about local tourist attractions? Consider creating packages to upsell during registration, such as discount tickets to a museum when people add a day to their stay. Are guests who stay longer than three days asking about dry cleaning services? Chatbots can remind these guests about the service on the fourth morning of their stay. Discover more about chatbot best practices and analytics

3. Personalize booking. 

Guiding booking choices with personalization improves the guest experience, secures future bookings, and builds loyalty. During booking, automate suggested activities or restaurants when reward program members book or guests select ‘business’ as their reason for traveling. Or, you can ask guests if they’re interested in making reservations at an in-demand restaurant or reserving a spot in a discounted yoga class. Another GBTA study with Omni Hotels and Resorts found that 57 percent of business travelers want restaurant suggestions, and 58 percent want exclusive deals and discounts. 

Avoid headaches managing corporate transient bookings

Nurture relationships with corporate travel planners

Even though group bookings may temporarily dip in 2020 and 2021 due to the upcoming US election, they won’t drop off completely. In fact, corporate bookings are predicted to dominate, so be sure to give corporate travel professionals what they need.

4. Promote your options to host meetings, events, and corporate training. 

You’ve got flexible venue spaces and event service teams to help companies run valuable meetings in your hotel. Use your hospitality software to target group business, corporate travel planners, and transient business travelers, and help you respond quickly to RFPs.

Make sure the specs for your venues are easy to find with listings on a supplier site, such as the Cvent Supplier Network. Include details about  your service and venue strengths, such as coordinating team-building outings for corporate retreats, wellness programs, or modern workspaces that foster creativity and networking—options like these catch the attention of busy corporate travel planners. 

5. Invest in booking and reservation tech. 

Make sure your capacity room management system can support preferences in group bookings and corporate travel payment and confirmation. For example, Choice Hotels is upgrading its technology to support an automated group booking system catering to corporate travel professionals and capturing a bigger chunk of federal and military travel business. 

6. Offer a corporate loyalty program. 

For those who say loyalty programs are dead, consider this: 82 percent of business travelers say loyalty programs matter when deciding on a hotel

Tailor accommodations to business travelers’ needs and wants

Making your guests feel special generates repeat business: 76 percent of US travelers would be likely or extremely likely to sign up for a travel brand's loyalty program if it tailored trip experiences based on personal preferences or past behavior. That means, you must focus on the ‘must-haves’ of business travel, which boil down to services and amenities that support:

  • Productivity

  • Convenience

  • Efficiency

  • Technology

  • Downtime

7. Make sure your Wi-Fi is lightning fast—even when your hotel is at capacity. 

Mobile technology and Wi-Fi are essential for today’s hotels. Over 70 percent of travelers in the US always use their mobile phones while traveling. Beyond IT infrastructure upgrades to support the fastest speeds, pay attention to:

  • Security: From basics like firewalls and multi-factor authentication (MFA) to new standards like WPA3 from the Wi-Fi Alliance (Intel, Apple, Samsung, etc.) you need to work with your IT provider to secure your guests’ connected devices and defend against password hacks.

  • Connectivity: Be sure that guest devices automatically connect to your Wi-Fi network as soon as they walk through your front door, and that you monitor your Wi-Fi network to prevent outages and respond quickly to slow-downs.

  • Reach: Guests and attendees want to access your Wi-Fi network wherever they are around the clock, so err on the side of covering your entire property inside and out. Use mesh networks, multiple routers, wireless extenders, and capitalize on advances like Wi-Fi 6

8. Provide easy check-in and check-out. 

Business travelers usually check in and check out during peak times, causing stress and contributing to negative experiences. Streamline hotel check-in and check-out with a mobile app payment option and self-service kiosks in the lobby.

9. Help guests turn their trip into a working vacation. 

Business travelers adding leisure time to their journeys increased by 20 percent from 2016 to 2017. Here are some simple ways to support "bleisure" travelers:

  • Provide details on local dining, shopping, events, sporting events, craft breweries and wineries, historic sites, and entertainment via print materials, your website, and mobile apps.

  • Pamper your guests by connecting them with local massage therapists, spas, yoga studios, and beauty salons, all bookable via mobile apps.

  • Create short-stay discount packages to encourage business guests to turn a two-day trip into a mini-vacation.

  • Offer tour guide services coordinated through mobile apps and your hotel concierge.

10. Keep business travelers informed. 

Personalized email and text messaging before, during, and after their stay keeps guests in the know and builds brand loyalty.  

Use email automation and guest messaging software. These systems can utilize customer data from your online booking process to personalize "thank you" and follow-up emails and texts (these are also opportunities to upsell amenities or suggest "bleisure" packages). 

During stays, email and text timely information about hotel events or reminders about shuttles to local sites. After checkout, send another “thank you” email with an incentive for booking another stay within six months. With texts and emails, keep in mind there’s a fine line between welcome reminders and spam. 

Attract transient business featuring hotels by the water

Get to know your largest business traveler customer demographic (hint: it’s probably Millennials)

Millennials are an important part of your business travel bottom line, and not just because they happen to travel for business—they actually look for opportunities to travel. Consider that almost 40 percent say they wouldn’t take a job that didn’t allow them to travel for business, and over half create reasons to travel for business. Some essential offerings for this age group: 

11. Provide coworking and collaboration spaces. 

Hotels are reconceptualizing their lobbies into unique places for business people to network, entertain prospects, and close deals.

  • Be sure to understand the importance and makeup of today’s hotel business center.  

  • Offer on-demand workspaces to boost revenue and increase loyalty.

  • Invest in the social aspect of collaborative workspaces, locating them in bright, easy-to-find locations within or near cafes or complimentary coffee stations.

12. Craft unique, high-quality food and beverage options. 

Healthy and sustainable food choices, the incorporation of public and community spaces in hotel bars and restaurants, and the use of mobile technology in food-and-beverage ordering are changing the face of F&B and leading to impressive increases in revenue

Today’s business traveler expects varied options from big cities to small towns. Pay attention to food and drink trends, specialty diets, and dietary restrictions. Unique and specialty offerings professional travelers appreciate:  

  • Keto-friendly foods

  • Gluten-free foods

  • Vegetarian and vegan foods

  • Local flavor (food trucks, regional options)

  • Craft beer

  • Low-carb snacks and meals

  • Food ‘Free From’ allergens 

  • Responsible sourcing practices

  • Mocktails and craft cocktail

13. Provide easy access to fitness options. 

83 percent of business travelers consider fitness options when booking a hotel. In addition to standard options, such as workout rooms and pools, consider these offerings as well:

  • Instructor-led group wellness and exercise classes

  • In-room fitness amenities

  • Rentable workout gear and equipment 

  • A ‘run concierge’ with knowledge of interesting, challenging, and safe local running routes

Polish your business branding across digital channels

If a business traveler was looking for accommodations online, would he or she read anything to convince them that your hotel catered to their specific needs? It’s important to make sure your brand connects with your target audience in three major online areas:

14. Assign someone to check review sites regularly. 

84 percent of customers said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Respond to both positive and negative reviews promptly and positively, offering thanks for any kudos you receive and solutions for guests who had bad experiences.

15. Enhance your SEO and website content. 

SEO stands for search engine optimization, a process of including specific keywords on your website so it shows up near the top of search engine returns. For business travelers, a few keyword phrases that come to mind are ‘best hotels for business travel,’ ‘hotels for business travelers’ and ‘business hotels in [city name]’. 

Polishing your website content draws visitors by answering highly specific questions business people may have about your hotel, or showing off your business offerings.    

16. Show off your business travel offerings on social media. 

Business travelers use social media for networking and recommendations—including great places to stay. Share your hotel’s business services and amenities on social platforms. Show off your inviting lobby workspaces on Instagram and tweet about upcoming conferences using your event spaces. Take time to engage with your biz-related @s and mentions to boost positive shares, and watch or trends in business traveler preferences.

Everything you need to know about how to win more business travelers' business:

What do business travelers want?

  1. An easy booking, and a fast check-in and check-out experience
  2. A loyalty program that provides personalization throughout their stay
  3. Business basics such as excellent WiFi & quiet places to work

What are three needs of the business traveler?

  1. Fast booking, check-in, and check-out
  2. Amenities that help them stay healthy and de-stress such as in-room fitness
  3. Free WiFi and lots of conveniently placed power outlets

Meet the high expectations of today’s business traveler

Your future guests will know everything about all of your accommodations, services, and amenities with just a few clicks. Now that you better understand their needs—from technology to "bleisure"—you can make the changes and improvements necessary to build positive, long-lasting relationships with business travelers. 

Interested in learning how to draw the attention of corporate travel managers? Learn how technology is helping consolidate business meeting and travel management. Or, explore how business transient tools help you manage the RFP process and win group business. 

Grow your business travel programs

Laura Fredericks author headshot

Laura Fredericks

Laura brings a decade of insight to improving marketing, as she has worked in technology since 2010. She has experience starting and scaling a business, driving customer marketing, and speaking at live events, including WeDC Fest 2018. She founded Describli and Paradigm Labs, and currently works with companies to improve their customer relationship management and content strategy.

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