To ensure traveler satisfaction is among the top five goals for travel managers, RoomIt commissioned research to determine exactly what business travelers around the globe crave from their hotel booking experience.
While no booking method was perfect, business travelers felt online travel agencies provided the best overall experience. In fact, almost half of all business travelers surveyed said they preferred booking through online travel agencies over any other hotel booking method.
Despite business traveler’s preference for online travel agencies, over half visit two or more sites and 26% admit to visiting three or more, which means no booking method is superior at retaining shoppers.
Clearly, travelers have booking needs that aren’t being met by their online booking tools. But what exactly are these needs and how can you help meet them? Here are five ways.
1. Cover the basics
It’s probably no surprise but travelers all across the world rank price, breakfast, WIFI and distance from the destination as the top attributes they look for when booking a hotel. Many companies include WIFI and breakfast in their negotiations, but if you want to avoid that additional expense you may want to partner with or promote hotel brands that offer free breakfast or WIFI.
Our research shows that business travelers also want these amenities clearly called out in their online booking tools along with cancellation policies, and they prefer using icons for these call-outs, which shouldn’t be too surprising in our emoji-filled world.
In a separate study RoomIt did with GBTA, 73% of travelers said their top challenge when booking hotels through their corporate channels is finding a hotel near their destination. This represents the largest challenge to travelers regardless of region. The good news is it can actually be addressed pretty easily:
- One – Partner with hotel brands with a large global presence.
- Two – Integrate third-party hotel content and TMC sourced accommodations into your program. This will provide access to more properties near travelers’ destinations and a wider variety of rates.
- Three – Use online booking tools or apps that allow travelers to find hotels on a map near their destination’s address.
2. A matter of scale
Hotel scale strongly impacts traveler decisions, so what scale of properties are your travelers booking? The majority of travelers book between the upper midscale and upper upscale tiers. However, preferences vary by region. In India, travelers are more likely to prefer luxury hotels, and Australians book more economy accommodations than other regions.
To meet local needs and increase compliance on a global scale, partner with brands that offer a variety of property types. Furthermore, you must clearly call out if you restrict any segments, like luxury, from being booked in your policy.
3. Sell the perks of your preferred partners
When it comes to selecting hotels, business travelers value quality, convenience, affordability, trustworthiness and quiet. Ensure your hotel partners meet these needs and then actively market your preferred hotel brands to your employees. You can partner with preferred vendors at travel fairs to reinforce these messages or highlight your hotel partners through automated email tools, intranet banners or display messaging or ads.
Worried you’re going to overdo it? Don’t be. While many travel managers are concerned about over-communicating to their travelers, in reality, they probably aren’t communicating benefits enough. 69% of companies surveyed in our joint study with GBTA said they require preferred hotels to be booked by travelers while only 30% of travelers knew this.
4. Integrate reviews
No booking experience is complete without hotel reviews. 70% of travelers said they would consider booking an accommodation based off a recommendation, which ranks it as the second most compelling influence on traveler booking decisions.
Integrating business-travel friendly reviews into your tools helps travelers make the right decisions and mitigates against that undesirable “shopping-around” behavior.
5. Improve the booking experience for a better hotel program
Having total control over your travelers, although tempting, is never going to happen, but you can foster a better hotel booking experience. Improvements to experience compel travelers to book within corporate channels, which empowers you to improve traveler decision-making, which then helps you achieve your goals.
Blog author: Peggy Studer, VP Marketing, RoomIt by CWT