Business travelers are estimated to account for 12% of all airline passengers in any given year. The business travel segment, as a whole, is expected to grow from 1.3 trillion dollars in 2016 to 1.7 trillion in 2021. For perspective, the growth in this segment over the next few years is more than the GDP of a country like Malaysia.
Not surprisingly, this offers a lucrative opportunity to the hotel industry. However, business travel is typically associated with large hotel chains like Marriott or Hyatt. Can your relatively smaller hotel chain manage to grab a slice of this growing market? Here are a few tips to help you with this.
What business travelers look for in a hotel?
As with any physical business, the key aspect that drives success with any hotel business is its location. While general tourists look for hotels that are closer to the city’s places of interest, business travelers look for proximity to the business district. Apart from this, you can never go wrong by having your hotel close to your city’s airport. Such hotels are popular among tourists and corporate travelers alike.
In addition to this, business travelers are specifically concerned about the star category of their hotel, the amenities on offer, and the general reputation of your establishment. It is tricky to get corporate visitors to a hotel that is not a three star or above. As important as your star category is, it is also critical to maintain a five star reputation among your clientele. Business travelers tend to be picky about their accommodation and premium branding is hence a major draw.
Invest in outreach
When it comes to corporate hotel bookings, decisions related to hotel stays are made primarily by a small group of individuals at Admin who handle everything related to employee travel. Reaching out to them is thus the first step in acquiring new corporate travel bookings.
Truth be told, simply marketing your hotel to the admin staff at various corporates is not enough to get bookings. In all likelihood, most corporates have existing partnerships with hotel chains that are the primary choice for the travelers as well. However, there are always instances when the primary choice of hotel is overbooked and the admin is looking for alternatives.
Establishing top of the mind recall is thus crucial. Create a sales funnel and establish regular contact with these decision makers at regular points. This allows them to get back in touch when there is a need. Becoming the hotel of choice to these businesses is a long-term strategy.
You can also consider investing in technology solutions to maximize corporate bookings. For instance, you may provide corporate admins with access to your hotel reservation software. This way, your corporate clients can instantly book rooms for their traveling colleagues without a lot of back and forth. This strategy is really helpful when your hotel chain is widely spread and would likely meet all of the corporate’s hotel booking requirements.
Business professionals are always looking to network with fellow professionals from other industries and verticals. As a hotel targeting corporate clients, it is a good idea to enable networking by regularly hosting business events in your premises. Tie up with online business communities that will bring community members together to your hotel. While this may not directly impact bookings (since most networking events attract the local population), this enhances your profile among the business community and ensures your brand as a hotel for corporate travelers.
Establishing your hotel as a corporate traveler’s destination is a lot of work. It is important to work on a sustained strategy and this is the only way to bring in a steady stream of business travelers to your hotel.