Hollywood has painted a rosy picture of the business traveler. Immaculately dressed, he strides purposely towards the departure gate in his shiny shoes and gelled hair carrying a cup of coffee in one hand and a smart looking suitcase in the other. And of course, there’s a laptop bag slung over his shoulder! How could I miss that?
In reality, the people who are required to take multiple trips a month are often jet lagged, living out of their suitcase, and looking bedraggled from the multiple flights they’ve hopped and the conferences and meeting they’ve attended. There’s very little, if any, glamor associated with the job they’re doing.
It is obvious, then, that these people do not have a lot of time on their hands and require fast service. They do not take in the beauty of the place they’re in and it’s quite possible that they see little other than the insides of their room or the hotel’s coffee shop.
The hospitality industry has been one of the most impacted industries with the rise of the business traveler over the last few decades. They have had to make sweeping changes in their offerings to cater to the needs of these time pressed travelers who come in with very specific requirements.
So, how do business travelers impact the hotel industry? All hotels have but one thing on the basis of which they function—travelers. Without them, hotels are nothing but empty buildings. In order to be successful, they need to consider the kind of travelers they’re going to get, the duration of their stay, and even the luggage they will be carrying! Keeping this in mind, the hotel industry is changing rapidly to cater to business travelers more effectively.
Fitted with the Latest Tech
Keeping true to the rising trends, the hotel landscape has seen major changes in terms of technology. Most travelers today are tech savvy and comfortable using apps or mobile websites. So, it is important that hotels provide up-to-date and user-friendly technology that will save business travelers time and help them plan their itinerary more efficiently.
Web check-in and digital concierge service are a couple of trends that have picked up pace within the industry. But perhaps the most important amenity that hotels have started offering is Wi-Fi, available either at a nominal rate or free of charge. Business travelers are often called upon to work remotely and have meetings online over Skype or FaceTime. Hi-speed Internet ensures seamless connectivity and ensures that they don’t fall behind on their professional commitments.
Owing to the tight schedule a business traveler is on, hoteliers make sure that they’re equipped to meet every requirement possible. You have a conference or a business meeting planned? A well-planned conference space with the latest tech equipment is at your disposal. Are you a health-conscious guest who doesn’t want to miss exercise? Hit the fully-equipped for a quick workout in the morning or at night. Looking to unwind after a long day of chasing clients? Relax with a nice spa massage or get the in-house instructor to give you personalized yoga lessons. Now, isn’t that thoughtful of them?
Flexible Menu and Prompt Room Service
With the growing consciousness surrounding health and keeping fit, many people now customize their orders from the menu. Business travelers, especially, have a body clock that has gone haywire and need to be more careful of what they eat when travelling. They don’t want an upset stomach or poor health interfering with an important business deal.
The kitchen staff in most hotels is flexible with their menus and open to preparing food according to their guests’ preferences. Whether you’re lactose intolerant or want a gluten-free diet, they’ll probably be able to customize the meals for you. Also, prompt room service is always appreciated by a guest who is pressed for time or simply wants to avoid a crowded restaurant and quickly go to bed after an exhausting day.
Long-term Stay Hotels
A lot of business travelers seem to be choosing long-term stay hotels. Unlike a traditional hotel room that has nothing more than basic furniture and an electric kettle, long term stay hotels provide most of the amenities you’d find in an apartment, like a kitchenette, a refrigerator or a living room area. This allows the guests to quickly prepare something for themselves before heading out for an early morning meeting or fixing up a quick meal after a late night meeting.
Hotels in the suburbs don’t appeal to business travelers anymore because they’re too far away from the hustle bustle of city life. According to Scott Brennan, the president of hotel business for Carlson Wagonlit Travel, the growing trend these days is the idea of ‘bleisure’—mixing business with leisure. Once they’re done with work, business travelers like to squeeze in some time for sightseeing, shopping, or sampling the culinary delights of the city they’re in. This is why hotels these days are located in popular areas inside the city. People traveling for work can explore and unwind after they’ve completed their professional obligations for the day.
Focused Service Hotels
These hotels provide one specific service to their guests instead of trying to provide all amenities. Brennan states that focused service hotels are “the dominant brand today and it’s a real game changer.” They pick one category of travelers and tailor their services and amenities to cater to them. So, business travelers save time by booking a hotel that also provides a conference / seminar room, spaces for private or group meetings and any other amenity they might require for work.
The hotel industry realizes that not everybody travels for leisure. There are business travelers who do not have the time to laze around and have relaxed lunches in a gazebo or sip on a glass of Pina Colada between taking laps in a swimming pool. The demands of these travelers are acknowledged, and there are evident changes across the hotel industry to accommodate them.
Now, with all sorts of services provided specifically to suit their stays, gone are the days when business travelers would groan when the next trip came up. Instead, the possibility that they might be able to squeeze some fun while away at work adds a new spin to their work trip and hotels are ready to welcome them all with open arms.
Ram Gupta is a hotel management graduate. He is a certified Hotel Administrator from U.S. and MIH from U.K. He has over 40 years of sound experience in the Hospitality industry in India, Dubai, U.K, Europe and Japan and is well versed with all areas of business including acquisitions, mergers, joint ventures, diversification, strategic planning, development and operations. He has been associated with over two dozen luxury and boutique hotel projects and has launched two hotel chains in India. He is currently an independent hotel consultant and could be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.bcgglobal.com
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