Qualitative Research: Understanding Business Travelers' Behavior Toward Hotels

By Johnna Freud Qualitative Research Moderator, Saul Cohen & Associates | March 06, 2010

Obviously, business travelers today have many hotel choices. In fact, in many instances, these choices are within walking distance of one another. So, why do some business travelers choose to stay at your hotel while others stay at the one across the street? How can you drive more traffic to your property? Understanding what motivates them can greatly influence your bottom line.

Determining A Study's Objectives

We know that certain business travelers value some hotel features over others. These might include location, personal service, and/or amenities. You could readily conclude the hotel that can satisfy the greatest number of needs and wants on the business travelers' list has the best potential to retain current customers and acquire new ones.

However, does "convenient location" mean downtown or near the airport? How is personal service defined? Are the desired amenities WiFi access, the fitness center or complimentary toiletries? Qualitative research can uncover the business travelers' meanings behind these needs and help identify their relative importance as they relate to how they decide where to stay.

Gaining insights into the most important features for business travelers is one example of what could be accomplished in a qualitative research study. However, a study can fulfill multiple objectives simultaneously. For example, the same study could be used to test whether the features offered by a hotel fit with the way consumers perceive its image.

A hotel can position itself as an upscale and relatively expensive property aimed at attracting business travelers who appreciate top-shelf service, luxurious accommodations and fine food. It can work hard to deliver on these goals and still not enjoy the benefits of repeat visits from business travelers or new guests from their personal recommendations, but why?

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.