The national unemployment rate may still be hovering around 9.4%, but a new survey from Deloitte’s Industries, Tourism and Hospitality-Leisure group found that 80% of survey respondents plan to take more or the same number of business trips in 2011. This is good news for the hospitality industry. Filling rooms, restaurants and meeting space keeps the revenue flowing and employees working. What are these business travelers looking for? What are the factors that will differentiate one hotel from another? What amenities and services will define the best in business-traveler hospitality? The survey confirmed things that I have experienced as a leisure and business traveler over the past year as well.
1. Complimentary High Speed Internet. 79% of the respondents chose this as the #1 determining factor for choosing a business hotel. Gone are the days when guests were willing to pay for this service in their room. Free WiFi in the lobby area or a few “hot spots” won’t make the grade. In-room is a must, as well as in the meeting rooms and conference center. Not only do your guests expect to make phone calls but also access the Internet for social networking, browsing, research, driving directions—and all from their laptops or Smartphones. And note the word “complimentary.” If you don’t offer it, they will find a competitor who will. We are planning a trip to Italy this year, and when browsing Marriott hotels, we quickly eliminated the ones that didn’t offer this free service.
2. Free Parking. 77% of the respondents chose this, making it the #2 differentiator. This will be a problem for downtown hotels in major cities, since the parking garages are sitting on pricey real estate and require some measure of service personnel to operate. Some outlying hotels as well will find that they have fewer parking spaces for guests that opt to drive to their destination and save the cost and hassle of air travel. When I was a contract trainer for a large international company, if our destinations were 300 miles apart or less, we would rent a car and drive between engagements. If you have to pay for parking, you negate some of the savings from driving which may be enough to look elsewhere for lodging.
3. Working in the Room. 68% of the respondents said that they work in their hotel rooms, which means they will most likely be snacking, drinking, eating and relaxing in their rooms as well. A large table or desk area with sufficient outlets for a laptop charger, phone charger and other electronic devices in the room are essentials for these travelers. A free refrigerator, microwave and snacks or microwaveable food in the lobby make it easy to work on that last minute project or proposal.
4. Not Just a Bed. 65% said they expect more than just a clean room and a comfortable bed. All the amenities above, plus an exercise facility, laundry facilities, a business center with printing capabilities from the room, copy and fax services are just some of the things business travelers are looking for to meet their basic needs. Healthy choices for breakfast, a complimentary glass of wine and snacks in the evening. The comforts of home without the cleaning up.
Mary Nestor-Harper, SPHR, is a workplace consultant, blogger, motivational speaker and freelance writer for Hospitalityjobsite.com. Based in Savannah, GA, her work has appeared in Training magazine, Training & Development magazine, Supervision, BiS Magazine and The Savannah Morning News. When she’s not writing, she enjoys singing Alto II with the Savannah Philharmonic Chorus and creating original gift items available on http://www.etsy.spoolhardy.com/. You can read more of her blogs at hospitalityjobsiteblog.com and view additional job postings on Nexxt.