Getting Back to Business. And Traveling.
The American Hotel & Lodging Association recently released a report showing an eagerness to return to business travel. Likewise, a Global Business Travel Association survey finds that 86% of respondents say they need to travel to accomplish their business goals, with 81% believing that travel will be greater this year than prior to COVID.
Call it pent up demand, a business necessity, or just that people are sick of looking at one another over Zoom, but business travel is surging back in a big way. Across industries, trade shows and conferences are reporting attendance numbers rivaling those of 2019. Why is this important for hotels to know now? There are some important aspects of business travel that hotels may have forgotten over the past three years.
Higher Standards of Quality
Business travelers want to utilize the full services of a property. While many services were cut and public areas closed during COVID, business travelers are more likely to appreciate nightly room cleaning and 24-hour gym access.
Higher Revenue Potential
Business travelers are more likely to utilize services such as room service or on-site markets, restaurants, and bars, and F&B. Having staff at the ready to serve these customers is an important revenue driver.
Less Seasonal Occupancy
While business travel has its ebbs and flows, travel throughout the week is more even and predictable, helping to even out staffing supply issues witnessed during the recent surge in leisure travels.
More Than a Place to Sleep
Self-identified Road Warriors view hotels as a home away from home and an office away from office. They conduct business in the lobby, rent meeting spaces, use the business center, and partake in on-site F&B outlets. The potential for return and consistent business is more likely in the short term. (Think of the family that goes on vacation once as opposed to a business traveler who visits the same city six times a year.)
Less Price Conscious
Yes, business travelers look at ADR – but they are more likely to stick with a property that offers the consistently high levels of service and amenities that they require.
Robust business travel is the next important step in the recovery of the hospitality industry. Competing for business travel is likely to come down to one factor moving ahead: Labor. The hotels and properties that have a labor strategy moving ahead can take full advantage of the business travel surge that is likely to happen over the summer and into the fall of 2022. This could be the factor that determines this year’s winners and losers in hospitality.
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