Personalizing the savvy business customer

Travel News 24 Aug 2015

With a widening gap between the demands of tech savvy Millennials and Boomer business travelers, the hotel market is hotting up to meet the challenges head on.

Underpinned by a refreshed global economic outlook, hotels are taking a more energetic and targeted approach to business travelers, opening up exciting new ways of luring and securing their clients for repeat stays. Cost-effective digital technologies continue to unlock creativity in delivering deeper levels of personalization, and travellers are both appreciating it and expecting it.

From smartphone check-in, to virtual room selection and cocooned beds, the world’s leading hotels have switched on to what travelers want at an individual level. They are igniting a new era where personalization and innovation converge in key moments of truths with their customer.

Economic insights: a global view

Confidence is returning to the global marketplace, with a Travelport analysis showing the Average Daily Rate (ADR) in 2014 increasing almost 4% globally over 2013 rates. In addition, occupancy rates remain strong which increases ADR in key corporate cities around the world. Such cities include Dublin, San Francisco, Sydney and Hong Kong, where demand is outstripping supply.

Against this positive backdrop, hotels are hungry for market share and pursuing it more fiercely and effectively than ever. They have recognized that to lift their share in a saturated and competitive market, they need to reach their customers on a more personal, innovative and targeted level.

What business travelers want

The personal touch

Through more bespoke product offers, information and marketing, hotels are increasingly hitting the ‘hot buttons’ of their travelers. They understand that the personal touch is paramount in building a traveler’s trust and loyalty. Value in the eyes of the traveler comes not only from cost – but from their overall functional and emotional experience in a hotel. Travelers want their journey to be efficient, stress free and personable, from end-to-end. Travelers have a strong voice and are not scared for their message to be heard.

Hotels are now more attuned to this. They’re taking notice of what corporate guests prefer each time they stay and looking after those needs for their next booking – sometimes before they even check in. Some hotel companies are offering time-smart ‘grab and go’ breakfasts for convenience and value, and providing fast and free Wi-Fi as a given, rather than an extra.

The need for flex

Research by global distribution supplier Amadeus, shows flexibility continues to be a priority for the traveler:

  • 62% want to book ancillary value-added extras: lounge access, meals and upgrades at the time of booking
  • 51% make flexible changes to their bookings prior to departure
  • 22% make three or more changes to their itinerary
  • 21% say efficiency in travel is the number one priority

Millennials and boomers mix it up

The widening profile of the business traveler makes targeted marketing critical. Millennials, or Gen Y travelers (born 1982 - 2000), are now moving into more senior roles and represent a growing market that is happy for their personal experience to be driven by innovative digital technologies. For the Boomers (born 1946-1964) however, experience, knowledge and the human element beats clickability. They want to travel comfortably so they can be productive and get home sooner.

Hotels hit the refresh button

Eager to jump on the opportunities of current economic and market trends, hotels are refreshing their approach with more vigorous, customized and clever marketing to the distinctive Millennial and Boomer segments. The larger chains in particular are sharpening their brand positioning, product and promotion to align more closely with their specific target markets – rather than providing a broader, less personalized generic offer.

Innovative product

With a common back-of-house technology platform, major hotel chains are grabbing market share by rolling out new brands, new room types, new check-in methods and more. This innovation is designed to trigger true value and delight their corporate guests so much that they are locked in forever.

While some companies are reinvigorating their economy brands, to meet the needs of a younger and more versatile market, others are enhancing their luxury brands to capitalize on a growing affluent consumer.

Hotel brands worldwide are rapidly joining the race to secure the hearts and loyalty of the corporate customer. Travelers are clearly the winners. However, with an abundance of hotel product in the marketplace, customers are finding too much choice can create confusion and procrastination.