Providing exceptional guest experience to business travelers in the U.S.

By Thomas Kruyne

Business travelers are now embracing a culture of “work venture,” a contemporary concept of mixing work with leisure. According to the Expedia study “Profile of the American Bleisure Traveler,” 43% of business trips are now extended to include leisure. With the rise in business travel, back-to-back meetings, business lunches and dine outs, the demand for relaxation is also rising. A recent report by Rockport Analytics estimated that the business travel segment would grow from $1.3 trillion in 2016 to $1.7 trillion in 2021.

According to a 2019 study, New York was named the world’s top destination for global business travel for the fourth consecutive year. Indeed, this calls for business travelers to seek business opportunities, and attend meetings, conferences or corporate events. However, traveling solely for business requires strategic planning like a pre-planned hotel booking and a commute to avoid unnecessary wasted time. Catering to the needs of their business travelers, hotels across the United States have focused on taking into account the necessities to provide their guests with a quality experience with enhanced services and tech-savvy amenities to please professional travelers. You’ll find below some critical requirements that hotels should include in their services for business travelers.

A personalized experience
The hospitality sector has also enhanced entering the digitized and AI world. Hotels in New York have now introduced speedy check-in and checkout services. This gives a paperless experience to guests by saving their time and energy. Some modern-day hotels like Marriot properties also leverage facial recognition technology to provide an exceptional experience to their guests. This is adopted as a smart hospitality service that leverages biometrics at multiple hotel checkpoints, enabling guests to quickly check-in and make payments. Yotel’s hotel robots in its New York hotel, fondly called Yobot, automatically collect and deliver guests’ luggage.

Health and wellness trends
Keeping a healthy lifestyle is the need of the hour, and clean-eating plays a crucial role. One of the most significant challenges with life on the road is staying healthy. Tempting fast food options at the airport and fancy cocktails at business dinners have led business travelers to look for hotels that provide healthy dining options. Many hotel business owners are optimizing their approach to responding to the health and wellness trends currently shaping contemporary culture.

Enforcing health and wellness strategies has appealed to business travelers, with hotels following trends like offering juicing options, keeping healthy vending machines, providing gluten free food and vegan meals throughout the day and night for their guests and free yoga sessions. According to Forbes, 18% of surveyed consumers say they follow a specialty diet. Food producers, restaurants and investors have all taken note of the growth in food sensitivities with specialty products and programs. The wellness industry is now worth $4.2 trillion.

Some of the known examples worth mentioning are Fairmont Hotels & Resorts’ healthy eating menus with the Lifestyle Cuisine program, like nutritional meals, including low-carb, low-fat and vegetarian diets. The Herb N’ Kitchen take-out restaurant at the Hilton New York Midtown, the chain is taking one more step into the realm of wholesome eating, and Hyatt’s motto “Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served.” was adopted by Hyatt to introduce health-conscious food options to their guests that focus on portion control and calorie counts. With Omni’s Get Fit Kit, the hotel provides a handy bag with a set of dumbbells, an elastic exercise band, a floor mat and a mini AM/FM headset so you can create your own routine, and they bring even water and a chilled towel to wind down with afterwards.

Transportation Facilitation
One of the biggest challenges when traveling for business or leisure is having a comfortable ride. Guests prefer to stay in hotels that provide end-to-end services, including hotels arranging transportation. This way, guests don’t have to spend their quality time stepping out of the hotel, booking or hailing a taxi for themselves, hence providing guests with the leisure to get into the taxi right outside the hotel, at their convenience. A taxi booking device, like ours from Venue Butler, allows your reception staff to book taxis for their guests with one click of a button. The device seamlessly enhances your guest’s experience, enabling the concierge and reception to focus on more essential priority tasks.

Accessible meeting rooms
Hotels like Ink 48 Hotel, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Hotel Central Park and many more in New York have a sustainable place for business travelers to have a formal space for urgent meetings and have live seminars for new and existing clients. This room supports a suitable atmosphere with facilities like AV equipment, screens, etc. Besides, hotels have also revamped their rooms with well-spaced and comfortable work desks standardized to rooms. It comprises comfortable seating, online access and a counter for laptops with multiple power plugs. Some hotels assist with printing facilities as well.

Many business travelers suffer by getting stuck in rush hour traffic en route. This usually happens when they travel from the airport to their hotel. Considering how crucial time is to every business traveler, several hotels, including Radisson Hotel JFK are launching hotels approximately 1.5 km away from the airport, saving their guests’ traveling time. Moreover, hotels also provide their guests with free 24-hour shuttle facilities. A report says that more than 45% of business travelers are looking for hotels with free transportation services. This includes pick-up and drops convenience for a more comfortable and hassle-free experience.

As businesses are getting back to traveling once again, 2022 will witness people reconnecting and see the planning of a trip become as important as the trip itself. In a poll of 40 CFOs across North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Europe, almost half (52%) of respondents reported that their company’s business travel spending would reach 2019 levels in 2022. Speaking about the significance of business travel, CFOs felt the top return-on-investment reasons for business travel are sales and business development (68%), internal business planning and strategy (50%), client account management (48%) and employee training and development (48%).

As business travelers’ preferences keep evolving, numerous hotels attempt to take up the challenge and provide quality accommodations aligned with the guests’ travel policy and their needs. This is why hoteliers across the U.S. are pivoting away from the conventional methods and adopting a creative approach to improve the guest experience for all business travelers.

Thomas Kruyne is managing director with Venue Butler.

This is a contributed piece to Hotel Business, authored by an industry professional. The thoughts expressed are the perspective of the bylined individual.