JOHANNESBURG – Business hotels have traditionally been viewed as a pit stop – a place to rest, refresh and refuel. However, the expectations of business travellers have seen a significant shift. Now, they look for an experience that’s equal to, if not better than, their own home.
Jonathan Scott, FCM’s Senior Account Manager, explains, “Modern business travellers are after more than just a place to crash. They seek a ‘home away from home’ that delivers an experience that’s more comfortable than their own dwelling.”
Catering to the Modern Business Traveller: Personalisation, Comfort, and Convenience
“Business travellers yearn for personalised, customised experiences,” adds Scott. Advancements in technology have enabled hotels to cater to this demand. From customised greetings to local experience curation, hoteliers now have the power to make each guest feel special. Thanks to advanced analytics and AI, hotels can better understand guest preferences and behaviours, enabling them to offer more personalised services.
Moreover, according to Scott, corporate travellers value feeling safe, looked after, and productive. Hotels are rising to this challenge by offering extra space, seamless connectivity, and personalised service.
There are six key considerations that matter most to today’s corporate travellers:
- Location: Proximity to meeting or event venues to avoid long commutes or traffic delays.
- Convenience: Accessibility, amenities, and hotel services are important. Does the hotel offer 24-hour room service, transport services, or even simple comforts like an iron and ironing board?
- Comfort: After a long day, a comfortable bed is crucial. Many hotels are investing in their sleep experience, offering everything from luxury linen to soundproof rooms and temperature control.
- Connectivity: Fast, reliable, and secure Wi-Fi is a must-have. Hotels must also provide easily accessible plug points, workspaces, and meeting rooms fitted with the necessary tech for virtual conferencing.
- Sustainability: A growing shift towards eco-consciousness means travellers are opting for hotels with strong environmental initiatives.
- Safety: Business travellers must feel secure in their chosen hotel and its surrounding area. Concerns around power and water supply in areas like South Africa are increasingly influencing booking decisions.
Enhancing the Hotel Experience with Technology and Wellness
Technology has not only personalised the hotel experience but also made it safer and more secure. Scott highlights, “Tech advancements such as mobile apps for services and contactless check-ins have simplified and safeguarded the hotel experience.”
In addition to technology, the rise in health and wellness awareness is reshaping the hotel experience. Scott states, “Business travellers often work long hours, so a hotel offering relaxation and exercise facilities and healthy eating options significantly enhances their stay.”
The Increasing Influence of Sustainability and Local Experiences
Increasingly environmentally conscious travellers prefer eco-friendly hotels. Hotels are responding by implementing green initiatives like renewable energy sources, waste reduction, and water conservation programmes.
“Today’s travellers, including those on business, seek more than just a comfortable stay. They want to explore local culture, cuisine, and attractions,” Scott emphasises. Hotels are responding by offering authentic local experiences, from arranging local tours to hosting local cuisine tastings or showcasing local craftsmanship in their decor.
The hotel experience is evolving to match shifting expectations and technology advancements. “Hotels understanding these changing trends and adapting accordingly are likely to emerge victorious in the competitive hospitality industry,” concludes Scott. The future of hotel experiences lies in merging comfort, technology, wellness, sustainability, and local authenticity seamlessly to create a stay that feels like a superior ‘home away from home’.