To ensure traveller satisfaction is among the top five goals for travel managers, RoomIt and Best Western have commissioned research to determine exactly what business travellers around the globe crave from their hotel booking experience.
The findings showed that while no booking method was perfect, business travellers felt online travel agencies provided the best overall experience. In fact, almost half of all business travellers surveyed said they preferred booking through online travel agencies over any other hotel booking method.
Despite the clear preference for online travel agencies among business travellers, the research highlights that over half visit two or more sites before booking, while around one in four (26%) admit to visiting three or more, which means no booking method is superior at retaining shoppers.
Clearly, travellers have booking needs that aren’t being met by their online booking tools, according to Peggy Studer, VP Marketing, RoomIt by CWT. But what exactly are these needs and how can you help meet them? She highlights five key ways:
- Cover the basics
“It’s probably no surprise but travellers all across the world rank price, breakfast, Wi-Fi and distance from the destination as the top attributes they look for when booking a hotel. Many companies include Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi. Our research shows that business travellers 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.”
- A matter of scale
“Hotel scale strongly impacts traveller decisions, so what scale of properties are your travellers booking? The majority of travellers book between the upper midscale and upper upscale tiers. However, preferences vary by region. In India, travellers 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.”
- Sell the perks of your preferred partners
“When it comes to selecting hotels, business travellers 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 travellers, 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 travellers while only 30% of travellers knew this.”
- Integrate reviews
“No booking experience is complete without hotel reviews. 70% of travellers said they would consider booking an accommodation based off a recommendation, which ranks it as the second most compelling influence on traveller booking decisions. Integrating business-travel friendly reviews into your tools helps travelers make the right decisions and mitigates against that undesirable ‘shopping-around’ behaviour.”
- Improve the booking experience for a better hotel programme
“Having total control over your travellers, although tempting, is never going to happen, but you can foster a better hotel booking experience. Improvements to experience compel travellers to book within corporate channels, which empowers you to improve traveller decision-making, which then helps you achieve your goals.”