Personalising the savvy business customer

With a widening gap between the demands of tech savvy Millennials and Boomer business travellers, 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 travellers, 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 personalisation...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 travellers want at an individual level. They are igniting a new era where personalisation 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 recognised 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 travellers want

The personal touch

Through more bespoke product offers, information and marketing, hotels are increasingly hitting the ‘hot buttons’ of their travellers. They understand that the personal touch is paramount in building a traveller’s trust and loyalty. Value in the eyes of the traveller comes not only from cost – but from their overall functional and emotional experience in a hotel. Travellers want their journey to be efficient, stress free and personable, from end-to-end. Travellers 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 Wifi as a given rather than an extra.

The need for flexibility

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

62% wanting to book ancillary value-added extras: lounge access, meals and upgrades at the time of booking

51% making flexible changes to their bookings prior to departure

22% making three or more changes to their itinerary

21% say efficiency in travel is the number one priority.

Millennial and boomers mix it up

The widening profile of the business traveller makes targeted marketing critical. Millennials, or Gen Y travellers (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, customised 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 personalised generic offer.

Innovative Product

With a common back of house technology platform, major hotel chains are grabbing marketshare 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, 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 capitalise on a growing affluent consumer.

Hotel brands worldwide are rapidly joining the race to secure the hearts and loyalty of the corporate customer. Travellers 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.

Business Travel Retailing keeps pace

Innovative programs such as SmartSTAY, provided by Flight Centre Global Product in partnership with hotels who truly focus on customer value, helps eliminate confusion by giving customers a clear and obvious choice. SmartSTAY offers value adding options that give customers more of what they appreciate in their hotel stays, with greater savings and benefits.

The hotels who offer this program are frontrunners to win over customers and seize booking opportunities in a crowded industry.

Accor Mama Shelter Acquired to gain marketshare into the design-oriented lifestyle boutique market Young Jetsetter
glh Amba Hotel Free and unlimmited and the fastest Wi-Fi in the world Road Warrior
Every Hotel All inclusive WiFi, minibars, nespresso machines, printing facilities and in-room entertainment Freshmen
Hilton Canopy Local lifestyle brand offering an energising, comfortable stay with more included value Young Jetsetter
Curio a collection of intriguing upscale hotels with individual stories to tell Seasoned Executive
Virtual check-in Digital check-in and room selection via a smartphone, with the ability to purchase upgrades or ask for amenities to be delivered to the room before arrival  
Hyatt Hyatt Centric Modern, eclectic, central: this brand is in the heart of the action and focuses on the modern explorer who wants to immerse themselves in the local nuances Young Jetsetter
IHG Hualuxe Dedicated brand designed to acknowledge the Chinese culture and heritage. Located only in mainland China with a vision to grow into selected major cities with higgh Chinese traveller demand Chinese Road Warrior
Even Hotel Speciffic focus on wellness - from yoga mats in the room to organic cocktails Young Jetsetter
Kimpton Bought by IHG to expand their boutique range and take advantage of an already successful, innovative product and loyalty program Young Jetsetter
Crowne Plaza New rooms to help the business traveller maximise their stay. A cocconed bed, a flexible 'nook' and a streamlined workspace.  Road Warrior
Langham Cordis Hotels High-end luxury, local lifestyle brand to capitalise on the growing affluent Boomers Seasoned Executives
Shangri-la Hotel Jen For the younger, independent traveller who loves life, travel and the adventure of discovering new places Young Jetsetter
Starwood Tribute Portfolio A collection of independent, unique, superior properties in excellent locations focused on the upscale traveller Seasoned Executives
Keyless entry system Allowing guests to use their smartphones to access their hotel rooms