The pandemic hit the business travel industry with all the power of a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick, causing a 52 percent decline in its earliest months. But today, according to the Global Business Travel Association, things are looking up. They forecast a 21 percent business travel spending increase by the end of this year, and predict the industry will reach $1.4 trillion by 2024 – nearly equaling 2019 pre-pandemic levels. If you want a slice of this profit-lifting pie, however, you must understand what today’s business travelers expect when staying at your hotel.
The changing face of the corporate traveler
Millennials – who were practically born with smartphones attached to their hands – will make up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, just as the even more digitally native Gen Zers begin their careers. This shift in demographics – along with the impact of COVID-19 – is causing many business travel trends to center around contactless, self-service technology with its ability to make travel safer and seamless.
Mixing business with pleasure
Even before the pandemic, the trend of mixing business and leisure, a.k.a. “bleisure” was on the rise, with 90 percent of Millennial business travelers adding leisure elements to their trips. Now, in the wake of COVID-19, hoteliers must prepare for the new and growing trend of “workations.” According to a report in Entrepreneur, working professionals who now work remotely are using these opportunities to work from anywhere in the world, booking longer hotel stays in destinations that interest them.
As a result, business travelers are more interested in discovering local attractions and events. But as with all travelers today, rather than heading down to the front desk and waiting in line to learn the latest info, they prefer a convenient self-service option. A mobile concierge app allows them to view options and make bookings from the comfort of their room.
Smartphones, smartphones everywhere
From using it as an airplane boarding pass to securing an Uber ride to the hotel, today’s road warriors rely on their mobile phones for nearly every aspect of their trip. They expect automated check-in and checkout processes, and mobile keys, so that when they arrive at your hotel they can simply head straight to their guest room.
Business trips can often mean high stress and long hours, and business travelers expect convenience. They don’t have time to waste when it comes to getting a meal or ensuring personal amenities are ready when they need them. Two-way chat is beneficial for time-crunched travelers, with 79 percent of people preferring live chat because they can get questions answered quickly and another 51 percent appreciating that they can multitask while communicating through this channel.
Business travelers – like all of today’s travelers – demand a richer hotel experience through greater personalization. For instance, they expect the ability to adjust room lighting and temperature with a few taps on their mobile device. And they appreciate arriving in their room to find the extra pillows and blanket they usually request already there waiting for them.
With the right innovative platform, you can use your digital interactions with guests to discover their preferences, then anticipate and meet their needs before they even set foot inside your hotel. Personalization boosts brand loyalty and it’s also profitable – lifting revenues by up to 15 percent. You can use push notifications to offer room upgrades and upsell opportunities – based on guest preferences –enhancing their experience as well as your bottom line. Furthermore, an advanced mobile communications platform can take personalization to the next level by giving guests the ability to make requests in their native language, then automatically translating it for hotel staff in real time.
The right technology is key
Travel is still an essential business aspect for many companies today, and technology is playing a central role in the global business travel forecast. In the aftermath of the pandemic, the workforce has evolved, and the wants and needs of road warriors have shifted as well. To take advantage of the growing business traveler guest segment, you must maintain a technological edge over your competitive set to stay on top of these business travel trends.
Are you interested in learning how you can meet the needs of today’s business travelers?
 “Global Business Travel to Grow 21% in 2021, Trade Group Forecasts.” Reuters, 2 Feb. 2021, www.reuters.com/article/health-coronavirus-corporate-travel-int/global-business-travel-to-grow-21-in-2021-trade-group-forecasts-idUSKBN2A211V.  “Business Travel: Full Recovery Expected by 2025.” GBTA, 1 Feb. 2021, www.gbta.org/blog/business-travel-full-recovery-expected-by-2025/.  “Business Travel Trends 2020: American Express Global Business Travel.” Amex GBT, 9 Apr. 2021, www.amexglobalbusinesstravel.com/the-atlas/trends-were-anticipating-will-have-an-impact-on-business-travel-in-2020/.  Wallin, Bruce. How the Death of Business Travel Will Change Your next Vacation. National Geographic, 3 May 2021, www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/is-business-travel-a-thing-of-the-past.  Bubna, Vidhi. “Hospitality Industry Records Longer Bookings During the Pandemic.” Entrepreneur, 3 Oct. 2020, www.entrepreneur.com/article/357151.  Mogelonsky, Larry. Building Total Guest Revenue for a Profitable Future through Seamless Self-Serve: By Larry Mogelonsky. Hospitality Net, 14 Dec. 2020, www.hospitalitynet.org/opinion/4101685.html.  Ibid., (3)  Charlton, Graham. “Consumers Prefer Live Chat for Customer Service: Stats.” Econsultancy, 25 Nov. 2013, econsultancy.com/consumers-prefer-live-chat-for-customer-service-stats/.  Cole, Nicolas. The Power Of Live Chat: 5 Surprising Statistics That Show How Consumers Want Their Questions Answered. Inc., 25 Apr. 2017, www.inc.com/nicolas-cole/the-power-of-live-chat-5-surprising-statistics-that-show-how-consumers-want-thei.html.  “Personalized Travel: American Express Global Business Travel.” Amex GBT, 8 Apr. 2021, www.amexglobalbusinesstravel.com/the-atlas/personalized-service/.  Hospitality in the Digital Era: The Road to 2025. Cognizant, 2019, www.cognizant.com/whitepapers/hospitality-in-the-digital-era-codex2543.pdf.