According to this article on Bloomberg, Covid-19 has changed business travel, not just for now, but forever. Businesses have discovered that employees can be productive while working from home and that business meetings, conferences, and seminars can be hosted online. Many have been left wondering if business travel is even necessary at all. While it’s not likely to disappear altogether, business travel must offer a compelling experience beyond the boardroom, because sitting across a table from each other can be done via Zoom.
Here are three ways your hotel can meet changing business travel demands:
1. Innovative Meetings and Events
As you follow local protocols and begin to open your hotel up to meetings and events once again, it’s the perfect opportunity to evaluate your meeting and event planning services and define your new or updated unique value proposition to meet current demands, including updated technology, bespoke meeting amenities, and plenty of small spaces for smaller gatherings. Doing so will give you a competitive edge over those who plan to return to business-as-usual in a market that is now unusual.
Kick up your technology
Events and business meetings that happen in person will now be reserved for special occasions that can’t be replaced by a video call or teleconference. However, it is to be expected that at least some of the attendees will be virtual; therefore, ensure your technology is up to par (or better yet, exceeds expectations). The fastest internet, large-screen video conferencing, and reliable networks help your hotel to be broadcast ready. Offer support to your clients and their attendees to help them navigate the technology for a seamless and even delightful experience.
Small but mighty
According to Successful Meetings, limited-service hotels are in demand in 2021 with more meetings booked than the larger chains. While they say this is likely due to competitive pricing, we also think that policy around smaller gatherings is at play. This trend is predicted to continue through to 2022, and likely beyond as in-person gatherings aren’t as essential. For smaller hotels, this is your time!
Make meetings experiential
There are two types of business meeting attendees: those who would rather be at home and those who are all too eager to be away from home to see something new. Both can be catered to by providing an experience. This may be through an exceptional or innovative menu (as immune-boosting foods are trending), entertainment by local talent, or a beautiful meeting space that doubles as a gallery.
2. Experiential Team Building
As with experiential meeting spaces, an emphasis is being placed on business travel for experiential team building. Since meetings can successfully be conducted online, the main reason for in-person meetings will increasingly be about team bonding, especially if a team is scattered across the country or even the globe. Capitalize on what’s unique to your locale to offer business groups craft beer tours, cooking classes, or adventure activities like white water rafting. Think big picture in your partnerships. In addition to business group travel, you could offer special stay and play packages, or even a la carte add-ons at booking. Promote partnerships on social media and extend your reach as part of your hotel’s digital media strategy.
As companies reduce business travel, there is speculation that when it is offered it will come with more employee perks than before, making travel more of a reward than a chore. That’s a good awareness piece for your sales team who can convince corporations to spend their extra pennies (saved from remote employment) at your property and appeal to their bleisure travel side.
3. Family Forward
While some employees will welcome a break from the fam for business travel, others may be in a bit of a bind due to childcare needs and parenting responsibilities. As companies step up to provide more equitable opportunities, business travel is something that will also need to shift. It’s interesting to think that hotels themselves can lead this conversation by offering corporate family-travel options such as larger or suited rooms for families, on-site or partner childcare and day camps, or even family team-building activities and packages.
Family amenities will be important to highlight as well, from cots and strollers to in-room family popcorn and movie packages to name just a few family-friendly hotel ideas.
If You Build it They Will Come
Getting back up to speed after the pandemic doesn’t have to be complicated. Make sure your hotel is ready for these post-COVID business travel trends with the help of technology.
If you’re looking to attract business meetings and events, group bookings are an essential part of your property management system (PMS) so you can manage all related bookings in one spot. With WebRezPro, the Group Folios feature allows you to manage all aspects of individual reservations while also managing the larger group contract, from room and rate allocations to deposits to ancillary charges—all in one place.
Cleanliness has always been important in the hotel industry but the pandemic has raised expectations even more. PMS-integrated housekeeping reports help you keep on top of your high standards with checklists, cleaning zones, and maintenance alarms for guest rooms, common spaces, and event rooms—all from the comfort of your (and your staff’s) mobile device.
Whether offering team-building packages or add-on activities, you’ll need a PMS that can handle activity reservations. This will make booking these extras seamless for your guests booking online and your front desk staff.
These times have called for hotels to become more creative in their operations and marketing than ever before. It requires out-of-the-box thinking supported by versatile technology and systems that provide the foundation for hotels to try new things and evolve, post pandemic and beyond!
Whether for business or leisure travel, here are five more practical tips to make your hotel workday more efficient.