Hotels Work to Meet the Unique Needs of the Business Traveler
It used to be enough for a hotel to offer things like a free copy of the local newspaper or available internet access in the rooms in order to lure business travelers. A bagel and some coffee in the morning was once considered business-friendly. But now, today’s industry travelers expect more from their accommodations, especially if they are expected to show brand loyalty to one hotel chain over another and spend a good portion of their time away from home.
Today’s executive traveler has needs that weren’t thought of even as little as ten years ago. Individuals who spend a good deal of time on the road for work have come to expect amenities such as a full breakfast, free in-room wifi access, and computer and printer access on the property.
But hotels that are interested in retaining travel clients—and even establishing fixed accounts with companies whose executives travel to events, conferences, or meetings—are having to provide even more of the comforts of home and office in order to retain their customers. This should come as no surprise since, according to C. Patrick Scholes, managing director of gaming and lodging equity research at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, a typical global hotel chain will find as much as 40% of its clientele comes from the industrial segment rather than leisure travelers. In fact, the Global Business Travel Association says that group travel spending will account for as much as $117.1 billion this year.
According to the site Maiden-Voyage.com, who specializes in the needs of female business travelers, several hotel chains have begun making special considerations for business guests. Hyatt Hotels and their various branches initiated the Hyatt Has It program, which goes beyond just supplying basic hair products in guests’ rooms; this program offers most of the essential items that a traveler may have forgotten to pack, including razors and nail polish, all available for free or at a low retail price. The Georgian Court Hotel in Vancouver, Canada, offers in-room curling irons and flat irons for their businesswomen who stay on the property. Other hotels are offering self-service mobile apps for travelers. Marriott hotels are catering to business guests by introducing a downloadable app that lets them order food, drinks, or other services from within a meeting held on the hotel property.
But what more could hotels be doing for this type of traveler?
Many hotel chains are working to entice business guests—both those who are staying on the property in order to attend an event elsewhere, and those guests who book both their sleep accommodations and their meeting spaces within the hotel—with even more involved amenities. Everything from themed meals and break stations to coincide with the conference or event’s topic to food that goes beyond the typical box lunch has been arranged by different chains. Many Marriott, and Hyatt hotels globally also provide complimentary downloadable international newspapers to personal devices so that business travelers can keep up-to-date with news at home and around the world. The Sofitel Le Grand Ducal has even gone for a more personal approach by offering room service staffed by female servers to female business travelers in order to make them feel more secure in their rooms, as well as hiring more security staff, situating females’ rooms closer to the exit doors and elevators, and training their staff not to call out the guests’ room numbers.
For any demographic of traveler, hotels with some of the most involved perks include those who offer free ground transportation within a reasonable radius of the property, rewards points that are not only good for future stays but can also be applied to gift items and cash back, and business centers that rival many of their guests’ actual offices.
Some of the motivation behind these extra touches comes from an awareness that if business travelers come away from their work-related trips with a pleasant experience, they may be more likely to think of that brand again for their families’ own travel needs. Of course, as businessmen and women travel for fun they may still need to feel connected to their jobs, a connection that can be built when they first encounter a specific hotel or chain while working.