As featured on Tnooz
Kelly A McGuire (PhD), Executive Director of Hospitality and Travel Global Practice, SAS and Dr. Breffni Noone, Associate Professor at Penn State, conducted a thorough study into the booking habits and influences of business travelers in the US (for details on the study click here). The study is well-controlled and offers some interesting results, many of which were too complicated for me to understand, but with all those credentials you can be sure that Kelly knows what she’s talking about. Here’s the summary of her findings.
1) Reviews are the Biggest Influence on Business Travelers
In this instance reviews are revealed as the most significant influence on both business and leisure travelers. Whereas leisure travelers will use a negative review as a reason to remove your hotel from their list of choices, a business traveler will use a review to assess what their experience will be. Therefore a negative review will not automatically dismiss your hotel to business travelers so long as you’ve addressed any feedback or concerns.
2) Loyalty Programs are highly influential to Business Travelers
The business travelers that took part in this particular study traveled for business at least 6 times throughout the year. Therefore the benefits of a loyalty program outweighed their need for exceptional standards or service. They will stay in a hotel that is “good enough” or “OK” so long as they earn loyalty points when they do.
3) Price still matters to Business Travelers
Whilst price is still a factor for business travelers, it is only the very lowest price that entices them away from favoured brands or those with loyalty rewards. As it’s not their personal money that they are spending on a hotel stay the small variations in price between one hotel and another will not make a business traveler switch as quickly as a leisure traveler would.
Understanding The Influence of Business Travelers on Hotel Marketing
Knowing and understanding the factors that most influence business travelers will help your hotel marketing team adapt their strategy to accommodate your business traveler guests.
If your hotel has a significant number of business travelers then your hotel’s priorities may well be different from a predominantly leisure hotel. For instance putting off renovations that would influence online reviews would have much more of a negative effect on bookings at a leisure hotel than a business hotel.
Ultimately having business travelers as frequent guests in your hotel changes the factors your hotel marketing team need to consider in order to compete effectively in the current market.
Adapt your hotel marketing to attract business travelers
1) Encourage Guest Reviews and Feedback
Some of our hotel clients have put links to TripAdvisor in their hotel app as well as encouraging guest feedback and surveys to help improve performance.
With reviews becoming increasingly influential when business travelers are choosing hotels it is imperative that you encourage business travelers to post reviews and provide feedback both on your hotel website and on review platforms.
If your hotel is listed on review websites such as TripAdvisor it’s a simple matter to add a link to your hotel’s review page on your hotel website or hotel app.
2) Introduce a Loyalty Scheme
If your hotel receives a steady flow of business travelers then you should introduce a hotel loyalty scheme immediately. Take advantage of a business travelers frequent travel habits to sign them up for your hotel loyalty program. Once signed up you will not only have more data to market with, but can encourage profitable actions with loyalty points, such as writing reviews or checking in on social media.
3) Provide a Better “Deal” Suited for Business Travelers
It is still possible to pry business travelers away from their preferred brand by offering them a really good “deal.” However savvy business travelers won’t be swayed by a simple “book now to receive 10% discount” promo. Kelly A McGuire’s study revealed that business travelers only take notice of price when it’s at the very bottom of the market.
Therefore if you have a loyal client base of business travelers you can feel free to push prices within the market without fear of reducing your occupancy levels.
4) Description over Emotion
Business travelers are looking for facts and are less likely to be swayed by emotional testimonies either on your hotel website or on other booking/review websites.
When adding content to your hotel website, hotel app or social media sites that is specifically geared to business travelers, it’s best to utilise more descriptive language rather than emotional language. Get straight to the point and don’t fuss around with fancy descriptions of every facet of your hotel.