Corporate Travel Is Making A Comeback: How To Attract This Lucrative Market Segment
The last two years of lockdowns, restrictions, and economic uncertainty have tremendously impacted corporate travel. The effects have been felt so strongly that it has begged the question as to whether it will ever reach the levels of pre-pandemic times. Nevertheless, there have been promising signs over recent months, pointing to this question being answered in the affirmative.
The Hit Taken by Corporate Travel
The onset of Covid-19 and the ensuing lockdowns and restrictions on our everyday lives led to a rapid change in how we do our jobs. With international travel being taken out of the equation in early 2020, the majority of conferences and trade shows—which are a significant proportion of corporate travel—were either canceled or held virtually.
Moreover, with the virus spreading, companies became reluctant to ask employees to go on business trips and risk exposure to it. In fact, many companies took a long time re-opening their doors to employees, let alone corporate travelers. The hit taken by corporate travel can be indicated by the 71% decline in company travel expenses in 2020. Companies restricted corporate travel to trips that were deemed to be essential and added layers of executive approval to them. This decline directly and harshly impacted hotels and other businesses that benefit from corporate travel.
The travel shutdown also woke companies up to the financial and environmental impact that their corporate travel had induced. Naturally, this has lengthened the duration of the disruption to corporate travel. As well as this, there has been a realization within companies that technology platforms can provide an effective alternative to physical travel.
Corporate Travel Is Returning
Despite the devastating impact of Coronavirus on corporate travel, we have seen extremely promising signs of a full recovery, or at least a movement towards that, with optimistic projections. According to an April Global Business Travel Association member survey, more than 50% of respondents are developing a timeline for the resumption of travel, reflecting growing business confidence. Furthermore, Deloitte projects that business travel spend is expected to reach 80% of 2019 levels by the end of 2022, assuming that the health situation and quarantine regulations remain favorable. This represents a growth of 4x from the levels of summer 2021.
Some airline companies have even increased business activity during the pandemic. Southwest Airlines added 18 airports, dozens of sales staff and made it easier for corporations to book flights through their own travel systems.
These trends are partly due to the effectiveness of vaccines against new variants and the widespread relaxation of restrictions. For example, US states no longer require quarantine on arrival, and Denmark recently became the first EU country to remove all Covid restrictions. In addition, most companies no longer require business travel to be ‘essential’.
Business trips in the Battleground Quadrant (trips which are relatively high in importance but relatively replaceable by technology) are expected to bounce back strongly due to pent-up demand, as well.
Many airlines have even expressed an intention to add extra premium economy seats—which have greater elbow room—for those who are still fearful of the presence of Covid-19 on flights. This will maximize the recovery of corporate travel following the last two years.
How to Attract Corporate Travelers
- Pay close attention to the Asian market, as it is currently the fastest-growing region for corporate travelers.
There are also numerous improvements/additions you could make to your property and to the guest experience in general that will maximize the number of corporate guests you attract:
- One of these is ensuring that your property has free high-speed wi-fi connection—a staple for a business traveler’s everyday life.
- Provide an inviting working space for your guests to use. Ensure that their desk is ergonomically-friendly and enables them to sit comfortably for longer periods.
- Providing simple amenities for your guests will make a difference. These amenities include sufficient stationery, extension cords, power strips, a universal adapter, and an ample supply of coffee in the property.
- Corporate travelers will want to look their best for their meetings and presentations, whether virtual or in-person. Provide a full-length mirror, iron, ironing board, hair dryer, steam cleaner and suit hangers.
- It is also important for you to ensure that your guests’ transport needs are met. This can be achieved by providing them with free parking spaces, providing them with the contact details of local friendly drivers, and listing the available public transport nearby. If it is feasible for you then consider providing your guests with free airport pick-up if they require it.
- Be very clear when describing your property’s location, especially if it is close to business hotspots such as conference and event centers. This means you should provide walking and driving times between these places, so your guests, with their busy schedules, can plan and manage their time in advance.
- Because of their busy schedules, it is essential to ensure that your guests’ checking-in/checking-out processes are as fast as possible. Corporate travelers may have very little time to spare between check-in and their first meeting, and equally, very little time between their departure and the destination they need to be at next.
- Down-time and rest are just as crucial. Provide high-quality bedding so that your guests can enjoy a comfortable and restful sleep and be as productive as possible each day. You should also provide a comfortable sofa with a variety of TV channels and streaming services, so they can rest and take their mind off work after a busy day.
- There is also a chance your guest will arrive late at night or when stores are closed. Offer to buy groceries for them in advance, so they are able to feed themselves before they have time to stock up. Additionally, some guests will not like or have the time to cook for themselves, which is why it would be wise to offer a catering service to them or a personalized chef, albeit at a cost, of course.
- Lastly, you should strongly consider providing exercise equipment (e.g., yoga mat) and healthy-eating equipment (e.g., food blender and juicer). This will make your guest feel cared for and looked after.
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