Business Travel – Is it coming back?

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The business travel trends of 2019 are gone, but knowledge of the next directions of the business traveler can help hoteliers bring in more revenue.

November 1, 2022

Business travel is up… no, it’s down…

Depending on the report or article you read, it seems like there are conflicting stories on travel websites, news reports and blogs regarding the current and future state of travel in the corporate world.

Some sources say that corporate and business travel is starting to pick up. STR noted that in one study, 40% of respondents said that there was a strong likelihood of needing to book overnight travel for business (June 2022). With fall bringing about more in-person conferences this year, Tripactions reported that bookings from September to November were up 6x year over year (Sept. 2022). They added that with many travelers staying for the weekend, revenue was higher as well.

While there have been some companies that have resumed business travel both in an effort to reconnect as a team, or to meet with clients face-to-face, the Global Business Travel Association does not see things returning to 2019 levels until 2026.

(Source: GBTA)

Business Trends so far in 2022

Many large corporations have scaled back their travel budgets due to the uncertainty of the economy, most notably, Google. In fact, 80% of businesses cite economic factors for cutting down travel budgets vs. 4% due to COVID (GBTA, Sept. 2022). Subsequently, they are only allowing “business critical” travel.

However, some smaller companies are traveling, some in order to play catch up now that most travel bans have been lifted. Many companies have found that meeting with clients face to face is more beneficial, especially when it comes to sales. Other businesses are getting together for team-building get-togethers as many have been all remote since early 2020. Company retreats have surged lately as they help to build corporate culture while allowing formerly remote employees to meet and collaborate in person.

Another trend is that of the “bleisure” traveler. As remote workers have more freedom to work wherever they want to, many are booking trips that extend into the weekends and bringing their families along. Mostly these travelers are Millennials and Gen Z (Siteminder 2022) who pay more attention to the brand attributes of a hotel as well as their amenities. These guests want to be able to work by the pool and then go explore the surrounding area.

What Hotels can do to capitalize on these trends

Hoteliers can create spaces throughout their property that can cater to remote workers, both public and private. These might include tables as well as comfortable chairs that mimic one’s own living room. Strong WiFi is also essential. If a food and beverage outlet can be added, this can not only add to a guest’s experience but to the hotel’s revenue as well.

Hoteliers should strive to  have a sales team in place, one that is readily available to not only set up a group booking, but a full experience as well. Sales teams should reach out to smaller and medium sized companies as they are the key market that is driving corporate travel at this time. Offering services such as backgrounds and cameras to be used for meetings that might be remote or in person can be included in package offerings.

The Revolution Hotel (Boston, MA)

Corporate travel might not be the same as it was in 2019, but it is evolving into something new and exciting. Hotels can cater to the new corporate traveler through marketing of their own unique branding that can entice the bleisure traveler as well as companies wanting to bring their entire group. Hotels who are able to capitalize on this target market can ensure a solid corporate revenue stream.

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