2015 saw growth in attendance and revenues of meeting venues. Business travellers are everywhere and corporate spending on trips continues to rise by 3-5% (GTBA study). So how to attract this suited and booted breed?
We take a long hard look at our pet peeves and the ways you can make business travel smoother.
Be Mobile Friendly
On the move, short of time and keen to make a swift booking, the business traveller is a prime suspect behind the rise of mobile in 2015. Christine Ourmières-Widener, of American Express Global Business Travel predicts mobile bookings to rise still further in the coming year.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: a mobile friendly website is crucial. Take a look on your phone, right now: Is it easy to navigate? Does the booking page load cleanly?
Expect pre and in-trip messaging, which already have a foothold, to gather greater traction this year. And be ready with a slick website to suit.
Take some inspiration from the ever present banner on Aiken Hotel, linking the viewer to the booking page, or from Duke’s subtle arrow allowing an interested reader to instantly return to the top of the page and access different areas of the site, without the thumb-ache of long distance scrolling.
Internet Internet Internet
If we forget one thing on holiday, please, anything but the phone.
Attached (by the thumb) to these devices, the world has been known to collapse without. If a hotel is to be a home from home, it must allow for this. IHG supply all loyalty members with free internet – even if they’re just popping into a lobby, not staying. But this, we think, should go without saying. So what’s the upgrade for loyal guests? I hear you protest. Superspeed wifi. Sweet.
Heard of Li-FI?
Vincent Lebunetel at CWT highlights the potential of connectivity through your lighting systems, anywhere from the car park to the bedroom. Pretty exciting stuff. It has the potential to revolutionise our travel experience so worth keeping an ear open, but it’s not quite here yet.
Until then: back to basics
Maybe you already loan or sell your desperate traveller the odd tube of toothpaste when he drops shamefacedly by reception? Why not extend this to chargers? Hyatt both loan and sell cables of all sorts to desperate businessmen and don’t we love them for it!
And while we’re on the power topic, plug sockets. Picture it: The alarm rings. Your guest's phone is plugged in to charge on the desk. Their day starts with a mad scramble across the dark, unfamiliar room to make. it. stop. Or are they choosing between nightlamp or charging? Laptop or mobile? Theirs or the boss’? In the words of Oliver Twist, ‘more, please’.
Connect the dots
In business, time is money. Save effort and complication and you’re adding serious value to your guest experience. In London, the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel offers guests in its suites a fast-track service to Eurostar trains to Paris and Brussels. Guests can stay in their rooms until 30 minutes before their train is due to depart. Time for a valuable pre-meeting lie-in (or massage!)
If you’re throwing on travel options, take a leaf out of Peninsula Hotels’ book: high speed wifi is free everywhere –including the Rolls-Royce Phantoms used for airport transfers in Hong Kong.
Perfect The Meeting Room
Ever tried to book a meeting or conference room? Please, make it simple.
No complicated descriptions or tiny measurements. Just a clear range of options. Guideline packages can be nice too. They stop us from forgetting the essentials. Yet capacity to personalise is highly valuable. Where possible extend your fancy new in-room iPads for ordering nibbles to the conference room for last minute adjustments and requests.
One more thing – and you’ll notice a theme developing here – internet. There is nothing worse than a failing skype connection or the inability to live demo your product.
I said one more; I lied. Never, ever skimp on plug sockets.
Change 'cheat day' for 'treat day'
The idea that meeting days are ‘cheat days’ is dying. Care for the holistic welfare of the modern business traveller from high quality and healthy food options to a state of the art gym to a comfy sofa in each room and above all, a really great pillow. We love Westin’s partnership with New Balance to loan workout clothing and trainers for $5 per stay – solving the hand-luggage limitations that restrict business travellers so often.
Little luxuries do wonders for our peace of mind.
Bored of water? The Langham Place Fifth Avenue in New York lets guests customise the mini-bar – swapping for Yoo-hoo, Vitamin Water, or Red Bull for example.
Possibly the easiest change and with the most impact is to take a good hard look at your hangers. Are business travellers really going to steal them? So stop skimping and invest in plenty of quality hangers that won’t leave suit shoulders triangular.
Here's an interesting question: Do we really allow ourselves extra luxury on the company card?
What if we’re booking on behalf of that colleague who ALWAYS gets the nice trips? Making your stay price appealing is a powerful influencer for business trips. Winner of the Travel + Leisure Top Hotels for Business Travel, the Ritz Carlton is part of the expansive Marriott Rewards program, meaning business travellers can now both earn and redeem Marriott points when stay with them. Smart.