According to a recent travel survey, a growing number of business travelers are booking their own hotels. Today, 69% of this demographic are taking care of the reservation themselves rather than relying on business travel agent services.
On a positive note, this trend is leading to more direct bookings for hotels. When booking a hotel themselves, the majority of business travelers (29%) are doing so through the hotel website via desktop. On the downside, this group are also booking more frequently with Airbnb. In 2016, Airbnb-type services saw 56% growth in usage year-on-year.
Overall, the fact that more business travelers are booking their own accommodation shouldn’t be surprising. Thanks to greater flexibility in the work schedule, it’s becoming easier to extend trips to include extra leisure time. Personally booking travel plans means having more control over how and where this time gets spent, which has a direct impact on the type of hotel that ends up being chosen.
As such, this trend presents a huge opportunity for hotels. With more freedom in their schedule and a desire to mix work with pleasure, today’s business traveler is likely to stay longer and spend more during their trip.
But to market themselves effectively, hotels must first understand how the attitudes and persona of this demographic are starting to change.
The arrival of the ‘workventure’
According to the Expedia study “Profile of the American Bleisure Traveler,” 43% of business trips are now extended to incorporate leisure. The proportion of spend devoted to this free time is also significant. Overall, 58% of those surveyed said their leisure days either equaled or exceeded days dedicated to business.
Interestingly, Expedia’s study uses the term “bleisure,” a phrase that is currently under scrutiny. Recently, Hotwire announced a personal mission to redefine this term and instead proposed the introduction of the “workventure.”
The suggestion isn’t just about giving an unpopular name a trendy new twist. It’s based on an observation that many U.S. business travelers who make the most of their time out of the office are generally more spontaneous and willing to try new things than the typical traveler. Overall, individuals who take a workventure are more likely to have planned a spontaneous weekend trip in the past year, taken a road trip, and splurged on a fancy meal.
This live-for-the-day mentality is one that seems to reflect the prevailing attitudes of the typical business traveler. According to Skift, millennials are now taking more business trips than any other generation. As a demographic with a particularly adventurous approach to travel, the term “workventure” may most accurately describe what the modern reality of mixing work and pleasure means.
To attract a greater number of business travelers, hotels must have an insight into how the makeup of this group is changing and the specific triggers that influence their decision-making in the first place.
Why business travelers decide to book
According to Expedia’s study, 59% of those traveling for business said their reason for extending their time was based on the additional costs involved—the second biggest reason after how exciting the destination was perceived to be.
The chance to attend a major event was also revealed as a major attraction for adding extra days to a trip—33% of respondents indicated the opportunity to catch an event as being a key motivator.
During the research phase, a significant proportion of time was also dedicated to reviewing sightseeing opportunities and the local dining scene. Overall, it seems these local attractions are heavily influencing where business travelers decide to stay.
That said, major importance is still placed on certain fundamentals, including getting access to basic technology amenities. According to a study by the Global Business Travel Foundation, 61% of business travelers said they used free in-room Wi-Fi or high speed internet during their stay. And the majority said they were “more likely” or “much more likely” to book direct if both these services were free.
The same study revealed that 35% were most interested in having more power and USB outlets, followed by having access to streaming services (34%) and being given in-room chargers (32%).
How hotels can attract more business travelers
Based on the latest research, hotels can attract business travelers and incentivize extended “workventures” in various ways. Here are 4 key areas worth focusing on.
Tactical offers and package deals
Given that additional cost is one of the biggest reasons for extending a trip, hotels can encourage business travelers to stay longer with discounted packages, such as reduced weekend pricing.
Today’s business travelers also wants to explore the destination, so package deals could also prove popular when combined with discounts to major attractions or sightseeing tours. Offering tickets to festivals, theatre productions and music concerts would also prove highly attractive to a demographic that actively seeks out events in the destination they’re visiting.
Not all business travelers necessarily have a great deal of time to spend researching and planning a trip. So it’s worth making their life easy and inspiring them with tips and suggestions on the local area.
The hotel website could feature a curated guide to off-the-beaten-path experiences, best local bars, or the top 10 restaurants in the neighborhood. Producing insightful features and guides that remove the hassle from planning is likely to be appreciated by a guest with limited time on their hands.
Connectivity is key
Providing basics such as free Wi-Fi and high speed internet access is also a simple way to appeal to this constantly connected traveler. Given that business travelers often use multiple devices during a stay, it’s also worth investing in extra USB and power outlets along with in-room chargers to make their life easier.
As a demographic predominantly made up of millennials, offering access to streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and HBO will also increasingly be seen as a major selling point.
The ability to network
There’s also an opportunity to appeal to business travelers by helping them network while they’re on the move. Just recently, Accor Hotels released Business Check with LinkedIn, a feature that helps guests find people in their professional network who are based in the destination they’re visiting.
Finding creative ways to help guests network like this clearly has advantages. But hotels can also use LinkedIn to promote themselves to the business community, publishing branded content, and sharing videos and images of desirable amenities or past networking events.
Targeting today’s business traveler
A growing number of business trips are now being extended to include leisure time, and this time is frequently being spent exploring and seeking out sights in the destination. The fact that millennials now take more business trips than any other generation also looks set to speed this trend up.
Compared with “bleisure,” the phrase “workventure” certainly seems to do a better job of describing the modern notion of what mixing work and leisure is all about. As such, hotels need to consider this within their marketing strategy.
In the end, appealing to the business traveler of today requires a combination of strategies, from devising tactical offers and providing essential technology to actively promoting the attractions of the destination.
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