Wednesday, August 23, 2017

20 important things hoteliers should know to attract corporate guests and bookings

Corporate guests are a market that can be available to hotels all year-round. Unlike leisure, business travel rarely has an off-season and if hotels work hard to attract bookings and build loyalty, they can create a secure revenue stream for their property.

Another good thing about corporate individuals or groups is that their needs are often easier to narrow down and cater for. The purpose of their trip is usually very defined and specific, as is the time they will spend while staying at their destination.

However, this doesn’t mean securing these guests is simple.

There are many variables corporate guests will consider before making a booking with your hotel, all of them based around efficiency, convenience, and quality.

A report from Euromonitor International shows the changing face of business travel. The rise of automation and new technology is changing the industry, and thus the needs of business travellers. Travel and tourism accounts for one in 11 jobs worldwide, but some of these are being lost to technology.

The specific research and development your hotel undertakes will determine the success you have in attracting a long-term and lucrative market from the corporate sector.

Here are 20 things hoteliers should know about attracting corporate guests:

  1. Make personalisation a priority

Corporate travellers are becoming more diverse in terms of nationality, age, and gender. Population growth and modernisation continue apace meaning the business market is not just made up of mature men anymore. Hotels will have to prioritise personalised service to serve every type of corporate traveller on the market.

  1. If you’re not a corporate hotel brand, it’s okay

You don’t have to be a corporate brand to attract business travellers. If you’re a leisure brand but can offer solutions business travellers look for, you should market this way. Hotels have already been doing this and it increases the chances of 100% occupancy.

  1. Realise that real-time service is very important

Move towards real-time service and increased integration. Like they do with their hotel stay, business travellers want the booking process to be as fast and as simple as possible. Incorporate the best booking engine and property management system integrations you can find to facilitate a smooth and quick booking process for travellers.

  1. Automating services means better guest data…

With a higher level of automated service, it gives you a better chance you discover more data on customer preferences. Collect as much guest data as you can.

  1. …and closer relationships with your guests

You can use data to develop customised personalisation and closer relationships between brand and customer. Whoever controls data, controls the customer relationship.

  1. Loosen up your hotel’s loyalty program

Loyalty programs are still a key perk for business travellers at a hotel, but you should try not to be too restrictive with how customers can gain or use rewards, otherwise they won’t be as attractive.

  1. Understand that business travellers would love your hotel’s mobile app

You need to offer responsive support on travellers devices and apps. If your hotel doesn’t have a mobile app that customers can use to organise their trip, check their details, or look for help, you should consider getting one.

  1. As the sharing economy attracts more corporates, focus on direct

Prioritise direct bookings. Optimising your website design, booking engine, and SEO will give the best chance to attract more direct bookings. This is important as it’s likely the third-party sites you use will see a decline in business with the rise of the sharing-economy.

  1. Use business travellers’ itineraries for personal service

Smartphones already outnumber the world’s population. Business travellers especially are highly-dependent on their mobile phones with 64% checking their itinerary via their device. This is where you need to engage with them, on a personal level.

  1. Start planning your future technology NOW

The future is arriving. With technologies like robot concierges and virtual reality starting to take a more forward seat, business travellers will likely expect the latest technology at their hotel. Hotels need to consider what they do and don’t need in regards to emerging technologies.

  1. Use technology to boost revenue from your on-site facilities

Corporate travellers may not have the proper time to look after their health. One way technology can help with is through systems like connected beds that measure a customer’s heart rate, mood, and energy levels. On the back of this, hotels can have other services to offer that will help such as a gym, spa, massage, or yoga.

  1. Be ambitious – go for the whole company, not just the traveller

Try building a relationship with an entire company, not just a single businessperson. There are systems like a global distribution system that will help facilitate the acquisition of corporate travel. If a company has regular commitments near you, consider opening a corporate account for the company and building specialised loyalty programs. Flexibility is important in this area because some companies will pay directly while some will have the individual pay and claim later.

  1. Offer corporate guest services via targeted emails

Targeted emails are much more effective. Generic emails that promote what you would normally send to leisure guests are not as useful to business travellers. Instead ask them if they need to reserve a meeting room, airport shuttle, or restaurant reservation.

  1. Be quicker…at absolutely everything

Speed is everything. The quicker a business can complete activities at the hotel the happier they’ll be. This includes check-in/out, being served at the restaurant/bar, or getting transport.

  1. Think about business travellers’ demanding schedules

Corporate guests require flexibility. Some hotels have a fee for flexible check-in and check-out times, while others give it to members for free. Either way it’s a good idea because business travellers fly at all different times and may require additional time at the hotel.

  1. Add a page to your website listing business amenities

Well-equipped business spaces are vital. Items like power outlets, desks, printers, etc., are essentials. You may also want to include a page on your website for ‘business amenities’.

  1. Make life easier for corporates – even post-stay

Think about billing itemisation. Life will be much easier for both individual and company if expenses can be itemised.

  1. Use advertising to boost mid-week occupancy

Think about running targeted ads on online travel agent websites to increase downtime bookings like the middle of the week. Read more on maximising midweek bookings here.

  1. Factor business traveller search terms into your SEO

Optimise the content on your webpage for business search terms corporate travellers will be looking for. There’s plenty of advice available on best keyword practice, including in our free guide to SEO for hotels.

  1. Remember business guests are a market within a market

Research markets within markets. Will your guests be Chinese business travellers, or American? This may change your strategy.

About Dean Elphick

Dean Elphick
Dean Elphick is an editor, copywriter, and published creative writer. Covering hotel management topics such as technology and digital marketing, he produces content at SiteMinder with one aim in mind - to help hoteliers run their businesses better.

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