It’s time to show business travellers some love. Not only because Airbnb are looking to lure them away from hotels, but because, according to the New York Times, they are increasingly going ‘rogue’. That means more and more of them are shunning the corporate travel agent and the company-approved list of hotels and booking direct.
It’s an emerging trend — the NYT notes that the majority still go through agents — but one we had to flag because (a) it’s another sign the Direct Booking Movement is gaining momentum and (b) it’s a potentially juicy opportunity. (Global business travel is expected to explode to $1.6 trillion by 2020.)
So there’s a new and captive audience out there, they just need to know you are waiting to welcome them. Advertising in the right places and playing up your business-friendly features online is a great start, but we’ve had a look around at what is impressing corporate types the most in case there’s room for more of them at your hotel.
Be generous with a loyalty scheme
It’s tricky to work out what loyalty schemes are worth it — we will be looking at this in more detail soon — but it’s clear that they are at the very least an effective marketing tool when it comes to corporate jet setters. “It’s all about the points,” said one direct booker in the NYT article.
A previous blog post shows current trends in loyalty include schemes that incorporate experiences and instant gratification via rewards like money off food and drink. Work out what combination will work best for you.
Go all-out on tech
A few hotels have made a very clear pitch to the business community. The Four Seasons, for example, has added in boarding pass kiosks in lobbies and The Peninsula Chicago has fitted in-room tablets that control lighting, heat, music and other features for maximum convenience. That’s not achievable for everyone, but equipping rooms with a range of device chargers and super speedy wi-fi might be. In the meantime, preparing now for a future tech investment could pay dividends later.
Get an app
Part of the reason business travellers are going direct is because they want to book as easily and quickly as possible, which tends to mean on their phones. A smooth-running, responsive app that allows customers both to book and unlock in-hotel services will likely be a major plus-point for these guests.
Provide 24-hour services
Some things will expected as a minimum, like a ready supply of spare toiletries and, as above, decent wi-fi. But what will really impress is all those things delivered according to their frantic schedule. Perhaps a partnership with a trusted local business could make services like dry cleaning or tech repair available 24-hours a day.
Install live chat
Companies are still keen to stay in charge of their workers’ travel not just to keep control of costs, but for security reasons. They want to be in touch with staff in case of emergencies. Having a live chat tool will not only allow you to respond to any guests’ queries in an instant, but it will show any nervy bosses that they can get a speedy answer whenever they need to.
It’s essential to keep on top of what the business world is looking for when it comes to travel; it is a high value market and we know it's a key target for both OTAs and Airbnb. Maybe these tips will help grease the wheels, but like those travelling for pleasure, their tastes will be changing constantly. Make sure you get guest feedback to find out what makes them tick and, more importantly, rebook.