Despite the recent developments and improvements to video conferencing and other modes of long-distance business interaction, sometimes a person simply needs to be there, face-to-face, for a meeting, factory inspection, or that personal touch with a top client or potential partner. Hotels are not blind to these needs and have been working hard to create a hotel stay experience that caters to business travellers.
Data, data, data
One of the key tools of up-to-date hotels is data analysis and use. These hotels harvest information from guest histories, loyalty programs, social media, and direct reviews to determine what certain types of guests need and want the most, and then they do their best to provide them – even before they are asked for. These data-driven services can be anything from a favourite skin care product in the restroom, to changes to the hotel’s infrastructure and staffing.
Increase in the number of female guests
With more women entrepreneurs than ever before, and more women travelling alone, perks like all-women hotel floors, female-only elevators, and gender-specific room amenities have all been on the increase. Not every woman wants these things, but for those who do, it is a welcome development.
Feeling under the weather?
Moving a little further along the spectrum of tailored hotel service, some companies scan the public social media of high-level guests to anticipate their needs. If a guest’s post mentions feeling ill, for example a complementary tray of soothing tea may appear at the door.
For some, this is a step too far, but it is in any case indicative of the importance hoteliers are placing on the needs and comfort of their business travellers.
Increase in the need for facilities
One of the hottest relevant topics on social media posts is the need for (or appreciation of) high-quality business facilities – not just an alcove with a printer in it either, but full-on office and conference room options.
One of the most popular infrastructure changes is the ‘coworking space.’ Inspired by companies such as WeWork, hotels have created areas in the building where business travellers can set up a conference call or meeting, go over presentations, create and print documents, and other business activities.
Included in many such rooms is the ability to make tea and coffee, to provide snacks and even meals, and to host face-to-face, video, or combination conferencing.
Use of these in-house facilities saves time and money on reserving spaces, facility rental and local ground travel, and it also gives the business traveller a sense of having all they need on hand, just outside of their hotel room door.
Some hotels even combine living and working spaces in one, private suite. These business travellers don’t even need to step outside of their door – their colleagues and partners can come to them, and users have all they need right in the privacy of their own rooms.
In-house (or in-room) offices are a great idea, but not all facilities desired by business travellers are business-related. Bleisure travel – a blending or combination of business travel and a mini holiday – has become increasingly popular, especially among small business owners. These entrepreneurs often spend long hours and months without a break from building their businesses, and the ability to combine a necessary business trip with a little rest and relaxation is a real plus.
Bleisure amenities can include traditional recreational facilities such as hotel pools and spas, but might also include deals on (and transportation to and from) local tourist destinations, theme parks, places of cultural or historical significance – or even theatre ticket packages.
Even the presence of an in-house coworking space can help mix work with pleasure, as the traveller can choose the hotel for its leisure facilities or proximity to a tourist attraction, and still have facilities with which to conduct business.
Since many bleisure travellers bring family along on some trips, this allows for family fun when times allows, work when needed, and a minimum amount of time spent commuting from one location to another when it’s time to switch focus.
Executive lounges, co-spaces
One of the most popular bleisure spaces is the Executive Lounge, or exclusive Co-space. These facilities offer areas that are exclusive to hotel guests of a certain level, and are not open to all guests or to the general public (unless accompanied by an executive hotel guest of course).
The style and makeup of an executive lounge or co-space varies, from a typical cocktail lounge feel, to a communal recreation room or mini theatre.
Guests appreciate the relative privacy of these spaces, as those using them understand the needs and feel the emotions that accompany business travel. If one needs a drink in a semi-public atmosphere at the end of the day, or wants to do a little work but not feel sequestered in a hotel room, these spaces allow for that. It is a place to have a quiet drink and some conversation, to watch the game with a few other fans, or to take in a movie with new friends… it is social, but not entirely public. It’s a peer space.
Sometimes that’s just what the business traveller craves.
Proliferation of small business travellers
Advances in work-related technologies have meant the ability for world-wide sales of goods and services with small staffs and lower overheads – which has in turn meant a significant growth in the number of small businesses with interests on a national, continental, or global scale.
These travellers have wide scopes, but not always the budgets to have assistants running around, setting up meetings and facilities, booking equipment, and taking care of the other arrangements and trappings of doing business. At the same time, the entrepreneur may be busier than most CEOs, with even less time to devote to the nuts-and-bolts of putting a meeting or presentation together. Cross-cultural situations can multiply a business person’s considerations even more, and can increase anxiety prior to meetings and presentations.
To answer this need, some hotels have concierges who specialise in assisting business guests. Helping to choose and book conference rooms, provide projectors, whiteboards, appropriate food and refreshments, and even some cultural advice – all of these are areas in which a specialist concierge can help. Call ahead to your hotel to find out if they have a concierge or business liaison who is able to assist with your particular needs. These individuals can be extremely helpful, and are a bargain at the cost of an appreciative tip.
YOUR business travel needs
Business travel has always carried with it special needs, but today’s technology means that services provided by hotels are increasingly tailored to you, as an individual. Data-driven market research has allowed hotels to better craft their business facilities and services, and it can even tap into your specific needs at a specific time.
These developments will continue with or without direct input from you, as an individual business traveller, but that doesn’t mean the specialised service has to stop there; don’t be shy about contacting a hotel or travel manager about a potential stay and inquiring about their services. Ask the pertinent questions:
- What facilities are on offer?
- Are there loyalty programs that can lower costs?
- In there a concierge who specialises in business needs?
- What bleisure options are available at the facility and in the area?
Equipped with the knowledge of what options are out there, and the desire to make the most of your business (or bleisure) trips, this trend in hotel development can turn arduous travel into a profitable and pleasant adventure – or add a little break here and there to a busy work schedule.