Are you ready to start effectively marketing to the 405 million long-distance business trips that happen every year? While not common to every bed and breakfast or vacation rental, business travelers can be the bread and butter of your business, if appropriately targeted. Many hospitality professionals feel marketing to business travelers is simply a matter of targeting them.
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Everything You Need to Know About Marketing to Business Travelers
Hosting business travelers is nice work, if you can keep it. Business travelers aren’t complicated. Here are a few things you need to know about effectively marketing to business travelers.
They consistently stay on your property. Their business is reliable year-round and not dependent on the season or weather, as is the case with leisure travelers. Besides, business travelers are often the only business on weekdays.
Once a business traveler gets used to a place, they will become loyal to that business. There can be many reasons other than actual loyalty for a business traveler to stay at your property. That said, the behavior is the same no matter how they arrive there.
3) EASY TO PLEASE
Business travelers, to quote one bed and breakfast owner, are, “in late, out early, and don’t spend a lot of time in the room, which cuts-down on wear-and-tear and use of facilities.” Business travelers tend to overlook the fine-tuned details in exchange for a comfortable room with easily accessible amenities.
4) NOT PRICE SENSITIVE
Companies usually foot the bill for stays at lodging establishments. As such, attempts to bargain-down the rate historically were rare. Again, business travelers are looking for a comfortable stay with an easy booking process.
Acknowledging Challenges of Marketing to Business Travelers
A changing marketplace has provided both challenges and opportunities for attracting business traveler customers to independent properties like boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals.
PROBLEMS ATTRACTING BUSINESS TRAVELER CUSTOMERS
In the past, the assumption of business travel was that these road warriors holed-up in sad, drab, chain hotels when they traveled. This was primarily due to the simple fact that it was all around easier to book at chain hotels.
- They provided a consistent experience from beginning to end, regardless of where the guest was staying in town or in the country.
- They offered full-service amenities such as restaurants, gyms, spas, business, and conference space.
- It was easier to book at them, as travel agents could simply find and call the nearest Marriott, Hyatt, or other chain hotels for Mr. Smith’s trip to Detroit and save Mr. Smith the trouble of researching himself.
Adapting to Changing Times
Booking business travel has never been more accessible. Due to online book agencies, mobile capabilities, and the explosion of home-share companies, it is time to rethink how we market to business travelers.
Business travelers looking for a fresh way to stay alternatively from chain hotels means more opportunities to get creative with your marketing strategy. Follow a strict social media strategy, create packages that even those with minimal time want to book, follow up with successful email marketing. You’ll be well on your way to attracting this massive demographic.
Understanding What Business Travelers Want
So the next question is, what do corporate travelers want when they travel?
The simplest answer? To control their environment. Think about it—business travelers are usually forced to travel away from the homes they know and love. Giving these travelers the option to control as much as their hotel experience as possible is the key to winning over their suitcases.
1) Location, Location, Location
This is one of the most important amenities (besides cleanliness) that your boutique hotel, vacation rental, or bed and breakfast needs to offer. Marketing to business travelers is pointless if there’s nothing near you that they want to be near.
The need for WiFi is arguably more important to business travelers than location. 49% of business travelers consider free WiFi a deciding factor while deciding on a hotel, and 90% expect there to be WiFi at their hotel.
3) Readily Available Coffee
Some theorists argue our modern world was established with the abundant use of coffee to kick-start the Industrial Revolution. Coffee is necessary for many, if not most, in the business world. As such, business travelers want and need coffee in their lives, preferably all the time.
Moral of the story? Don’t skimp on the coffee.
4) Readily Available Food
In the past, guests expected a restaurant on-site when they arrived at their business travel destination. Business travelers work too much to have time for that. Business travelers work for more than 240 hours per year than the average American worker. 39% of business travelers work more hours when they travel than when they’re at the office.
While 4-star dining is lovely, business travelers may be content with grab-and-go options. Include healthy choices in your easy-access bistro, and travelers looking to avoid the battle of the bulge commonly fought by road warriors will thank you.
5) Easy, Convenient Parking and Proximity to Mass-Transit and Transportation
This fits in with the location requirement. When marketing to business travelers, highlight these essential amenities when potential guests are comparing you to competitors. If your lodging establishment is the best choice of the downtown hotels near Greenwich Hospital, make sure that your hospitality marketing strategy highlights these key points.
7) Comfortable Seating
We, business travelers, need comfortable spots to check Google Analytics!
You may not think of this regularly, but business travelers will notice if you force them to find basic business equipment. And losing them to go back to a chain hotel will be a major bummer if all you needed to save that relationship was a scanner.
Some more items important for meeting business travelers include:
- A functional desk in the room
- Ergonomic desk chairs in the room
6) Wellness Options
It’s not unusual to see corporate travelers concerned about their waistlines. Between long stretches of sitting down on flights and cars and eating whatever is readily available, it’s an uphill battle.
But helping them out will undoubtedly win you brownie points. Some ideas to wellness-centered travel would be offering complimentary access to a local gym or in-house wellness kits.
7) Easy Bookkeeping
Make all aspects of planning and follow-up as easy as possible. While an entire software solution isn’t necessary, offering itemized billing and invoices would certainly help.
8) Easy Check-In Process
Corporate travelers often spend all day interacting with people. Being forcibly pleasant with your front desk or property management staff may be painful to them by the time they check-in that evening.
So why force them?
A non-traditional check-in experience permits travelers to avoid interacting with anyone if they want, or vice versa. But the important thing is that it doesn’t force the guest to do so for basic things like getting into their room or basic information.
What could a non-traditional check-in experience look like on your property? Switching from physical keys and locks to a setup in which guests can get in and out of their rooms and units without interacting with the front desk, or even touching a keycard.
9) Flexible Check-in and Check-out
Speaking of letting business travelers maintain control over their experience at your boutique hotel, vacation rental unit, or bed and breakfast, having some flexibility with when a guest arrives and leaves can work wonders for customer loyalty.
Imagine if their flight leaves later than expected or their flight arrives earlier. Removing the hurdle of time gaps can go a long way in making those guests love you and come back next time they’re in town.
Start Planning Your Strategy for Marketing to Business Travelers
Once you know that you have a fantastic product for your target market, now is the time to start marketing to business travelers.
Create a great marketing strategy by using what you already have—great reviews, loyalty, a mobile-optimized website, and a little bit of data. While being keen on various aspects of hospitality marketing is important, essential areas for marketing to business travelers include SEO, PPC, website design, email marketing, and social media marketing.
GET GREAT REVIEWS OF YOUR PROPERTY
Just like the leisure traveler, corporate travelers want to know in advance what their experience at your establishment will be like. That said, their need for good reviews of your property is to avoid dealing with any surprises. A negative review will not necessarily translate to a deal-breaker for them as it could a leisure traveler. Be sure to keep your TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google business listings updated and reactive.
OFFER A LOYALTY PROGRAM FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS
Just because the price is one element of a traveler’s decision to stay at your bed and breakfast, hotel, or vacation rental, doesn’t mean it should be the only one. While a discount is one option to offer in a loyalty program, the only real limit is your imagination.
Scope out your competitors for ideas and what appears to be already working. To get your research going, try Googling “(your location) hotels for business travelers.” Top results for that term are likely considered good answers to relevant searches, and therefore the right place to start.
Visit those websites and see what they offer and then build something even better. Travelers love free upgrades, free nights, and free use of amenities.
Keep in mind there is no perfect loyalty program. Experiment with your own and get feedback from customers on what’s working and what’s not.
Nowadays, the average business traveler checks their smartphone 34 times per day. 59% of business travelers said they would feel disoriented, distraught, and lonely without smartphones for just a week.
Forcing business travelers to switch from their smartphones to a desktop takes control of their experience out of their hands. Of course, some corporate travelers may want to pick up the phone and call you to book. But if that seemingly small decision is a make or break for them, do you want them to pan your business before they get a full experience? Aim for a three-step booking to ease them through the process.
TARGETED COMMUNICATIONS TO BUSINESS TRAVELERS
Now that your property is optimized for business travelers to enjoy full control over their experience and you have business travelers already enjoying your place, it’s time to attract more!
The most important thing to remember is not to dilute your message. Business travelers don’t want to hear about a romantic or family-friendly experience at your property any more than a couple looking for a romantic getaway wants to know that you’re a great place to conduct corporate meetings. Business travelers usually travel during the week while family and romantic vacationers come on weekends. Target travelers differently, even down to having different pages on your website devoted to different target demographics.
As far as communication style goes, keep it straightforward with a focus on descriptions rather than emotion-provoking copywriting.
How Does All of This Relate to Content Marketing?
While a full suite of hospitality marketing services is the best way to attract hotel guests, business travelers are generally a more direct bunch. Here’s the breakdown of hospitality marketing services as offered by Q4Launch, and which to focus on when targeting corporate travelers.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
Hospitality SEO is super useful. If you’re number one in your area for terms that your target demographic searches, they’ll land on your website, get all the information they need, and book. The simplest strategy would be to collect all relevant information for business travelers on one page.
Again, creating a user-friendly website, specifically mobile-friendly, is key to keeping organic traffic on your site. Simple is always better in the business world.
Hospitality email marketing is highly effective for business travelers. Segment your email lists and customize your marketing efforts. Sending them an email about weddings risks being a major turn-off.
This can provide quick turn-around, and is similar to SEO. This is a quick and effective way to rank on the front page of Google.
Discover More About Marketing to Business Travelers With Q4Launch
Are you ready to take ahold of the business traveler market? Partner with Q4Launch and discover how we are paving innovative ways to market to this growing demographic. Let us do the labor while you enjoy the benefits of hosting a loyal band of business travelers.