Skype, Face Time, video conferencing, and relevant technologies are believed to have widely reduced the need for people to travel from place to place to meet employees, colleagues or clients. However, this seems to be in stark contrast to the reality on the ground. Business travel numbers are continuously growing and their trajectory is projected to go only one way – north. Companies are finding it increasingly important to travel, and they find human interaction irreplaceable. The reason for this is, psychologists believe that it is hard to follow the cues of people over a two-dimension space.
According to research conducted by Oxford Economics, there are four main functions of a business – which are primarily to help in retaining customers for an organization.
In addition to helping retain customers, business travel has proven to convert more prospects to actual customers. Business travel also helps further building and strengthens your relationship with the customer – needless to say, the strength of the relationship is directly proportional to the ease with which your competitors look to convert your customers. Further to strengthening your existing relationships, it also forms a base to improve networking with others well, possibly generating new leads. Finally, business travel has proven to be linked to employee satisfaction and morale. Business travel – be it a client meeting, internal training or even an incentive program – positively affects employee satisfaction as it makes employees feel that the company is keen to invest in them, motivating them to work harder.
Now that it has been established beyond reasonable doubt that business travellers are going to travel, the where is obviously based on the client domicile. Where do they stay? This is the hotelier’s dimension in business travel. Guests at a hotel – be it business or leisure – come expecting an experience, not to be confused with luxury! Guests are rational and expect certain features for the price that they are paying. What they expect is definitely influenced by what the competition offers them, and the challenge of the hotelier is to prove the value in the differential that they offer. Business travellers stay for different durations, an average is said to be between 2- 3 nights. The number of touch points is different for different lengths of stay. However, primarily what they want is acknowledgement, because if you’re not doing it then the competition is, whether they’re a 2-star or a 5-star hotel.
Acknowledgement is basically greeting a guest by name, knowing what type of room they like and so on. If you had his preferences for any room from previous visits, business traveller would have been wowed at one time. Now however, it is a necessity as the traveller does not want to repeat the process every time, especially after a long journey. It is now up to hoteliers to figure out how to distinctively recognize guests as this would facilitate a recall for next time they plan a trip.
Acknowledgement can also be thought of as a Loyalty program. A loyalty program lets you acknowledge the guest for patronizing your hotel, and dissuades him from looking out for options. Even if you don’t have the funds to run a full-fledged loyalty program, it doesn’t necessarily put you out of the race. You can still establish instant recall for guest by making their stay memorable. An upgrade of room category or a complimentary spa treatment, sending across his favourite dish (which he happened to mention to your chef during his previous stay), these gestures go a long way in building guest loyalty. To do this though, you will need a management system that prompts you to grab opportunities like this, by providing you with a guest’s preferences from his previous visit.
Another avatar of acknowledgement is feedback by guests. Everyone asks for feedback and receives the same but what are we doing with it? Trip Advisor is a great example of a place where guests give feedback about their stay. The expectation is that feedback will be acknowledged as soon as possible. However if there is any negative feedback, you have to make sure you follow up so that the next time the guest checks in, they notice the difference. If you have acknowledged the guest, you’re showing that you care for them and develop the relationship and trust.
However, acknowledgement of a guest is only possible if you know them. It’s practically impossible to do so individually with the thousands of guests that walk in and out of your property. What we need in this day and age is a robust system that helps acknowledge and keep guests hooked to your hotel.
By Joseph Christopher
"Be Proactive – It’s What Guests Expect From Your Hotel Employees Today!",