Aiming To Please The Top Spenders In Hotels

According to the U.S. Travel Association, business travel in the U.S. was responsible for $246 billion in spending for 2012. The horizon for the travel industry is bright for 2013 with an expected increase of 4.6 percent to reach $266.7 billion. Looking at these numbers, it’s easy to understand how imperative it is for hotels to grasp the market and cater to business travelers. A recent report from Business Travel News estimates the daily rate for a hotel, a rental car, breakfast, lunch and dinner is $285.28 per traveler. Food spending is a whopping 30 percent of this budget. This data showcases the need for hotels and resorts to respond to this growing demand and cater to the specific needs of the business traveler.
There is a new relationship between hotels and customers. With new technologies and increased online communication, consumers are very much aware of existing offerings with a few clicks and can easily compare prices, amenities and reviews. Guests also have higher expectations which beg for hotels to provide a productive environment for work as well as pleasure. For the frequent business traveler, the lines blur between productive work, leisure and social time, and establishments have to compete and stand out in the crowd. This is why, today, in addition to traditional loyalty programs, hotels also capitalize on adding values that will most likely attract this lucrative business target. But what exactly are business travelers looking for?
Comfy Convenience is a Must!

One of the most important factors for business travelers is convenience. Such factors include easy check-in services, room service, in-house coffee shop, gym access, Wi-Fi (preferably free), free breakfast and accessible, quality dining options. Business travelers are often multitaskers who check their email, print documents and do this all while enjoying their morning coffee. Having all of these amenities with ease of access is what propels business travelers to select properties and stay loyal to them. The more available business amenities the less expense to the company footing the bill, which creates a win-win for both the guest and the business.


Loyalty Recognition uses the term “Perkonomics” which is a way to make customers feel unique, understood, cared for and pampered through different products and experiences. Exclusive privileges are what really matters. Loyalty programs are a proven perk providing guests with auto upgrades while defining the uniqueness of the brand and winning the empathy of its loyal customers. According to The Travel Channel Online, a few loyalty programs stand out for their convenience, rewarding options and VIP treatments. Westin and Sheraton hotels, for instance, offer free breakfast, late checkout and rewards when reaching Platinum status at 50 nights. Some programs such as the Hilton Honors also partner with airlines and credit cards to provide additional attractive rewards to their customers spending $40,000 a year.
Socially Acceptable

While business travelers want to be productive, they are also social people who like to be around others. In response to this phenomenon, the new trend in hospitality services is happy hour. Many hotel properties are hosting happy hour from 5p.m.–7p.m. Guests are invited to enjoy a complimentary glass of wine, beer or martini and grab a snack from an appetizing buffet. As redesigns of properties also continue to gain traction, business travelers are enjoying these happy hours on nice rooftops or patios, offering a moment to relax after a day on the road. Sheraton, for instance, reported to USA Today that it partnered with the magazine Wine Spectator to create a happy hour during which guests sample premium wines and pair them with items on a menu designed for the occasion. These kinds of events not only seduce actual customers but also potentially bring their guests and business partners to your door.

An Office Away from the Office

In the past, hotels only offered the in-room desk because it was expected that people would work in their room, but nowadays, business travelers want to work in a “third space.” A survey from United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs revealed that 36 percent of millennials said that they preferred to work in the lobby area compared to 17 percent of older generations. A good example of this emerging industry standard is an open business center area as a part of the lobby. Fading are the days where business spaces are closed areas with a line of old computers and no windows. Hotels are transforming their lobby areas into comfortable lounge meeting spaces to encourage group work and adapt to the socializing nature of their younger travelers. Improved work spaces with Wi-Fi equipped workstations are a must and should include printers, larger desks, comfortable chairs, fax machines and televisions. During the day, hotels are seeing that their lobbies are lively and money is staying on the property because of these offerings – meaning rather than going to the nearest Starbucks, guests are staying, holding meetings and interviews, and taking advantage of all the hotel property has to offer.
Like Home

People who travel often for business can develop homesickness and crave the nostalgic reminders of home. Guests appreciate hotels that create an atmosphere that is more like home and comfortable. Some simple ideas can do the trick to create a “like-home” ambiance: scented fabric softeners make the sheets smell like fresh laundry; sound, such as an iPod speaker on the nightstand allows guests to listen to what they prefer; fresh flowers and comforting products/goodies showcase thoughtfulness; and popular branded products can especially make a guest feel at home. In-room refrigerators and microwaves will also allow your guests to bring their basic grocery needs, prepare fresh meals and store important medicine. Women especially tend to bring a little bit of home with them, primarily for a long trip, such as a comfortable outfit, a personal hair dryer or pillow.
Local Culinary Showcase

Business travelers tend to enjoy local influences and new culinary experiences as a perk to always being on the road when time allots. Often times, the day is so filled with work tasks that when they return in the evening it’s a struggle to determine if the energy is there to explore the city. If not, these travelers expect a quality dinner at the hotel where they can still get a snapshot of local culture. The corporate-configured eatery is no longer working. Like upscale restaurants, hotels and resorts understand the value of reinventing their menus, bringing in respected chefs, using locally grown ingredients in their menu and creating an overall experience. Hotel Indigo, as an example, capitalizes on this phenomenon with its recently launched program called “farm-to-fork.” Focusing primarily on breakfast items, this program requires chefs to use local ingredients such as meat, cheese, coffee and baking products. Providing guests with local food makes them feel like they are having an authentic “away from home” experience. Moreover, such operations proved to increase sales without raising any complaints from customers: a real win-win situation.
It Needs to Be Healthy!

KRC Research revealed that 56 percent of the 200 business travelers it interviewed for a study said they regretted indulging in “bad” food while traveling. A majority of them expressed a wish to have low-fat and healthy options as part of hotel restaurant menus and less fattening choices for in-room snacks. Furthermore, the rising number of businesswomen has contributed to raising the bar of healthy expectations even higher. Women want light lunch and dinner selections with organic, fat-free options. Hotels are now being categorized “female friendly” depending on their services, acknowledging that women will tend to rebook a hotel they liked for a family trip. Women account for almost 50 percent of business travelers and are making up to 85 percent of the purchase choices in the household, making it worth a hotel’s time to consider their needs.
Business travelers are a priority because of the market share they represent for hotels and resorts. Understanding their needs allows brands to stand out in the crowd and win the valuable sympathy of a demanding target, as well as the sale. From loyalty programs to happy hours and healthy offerings, creative ways to seduce guests are what is driving the competition in hotels and resorts. Catering to business travelers must continue to mature from necessity to reality to yield long-term success for properties.