Catering to the Needs of the Business Traveler
By Sanjay Nijhawan COO, Guoman Hotels (UK) | June 06, 2010
Do the new, rapidly changing global economic realities affect how we cater to our customers, particularly to the all important business traveler? Unquestionably, the answer is yes, but, as I hope to point out in this article, perhaps less in what we offer that's new than in how we present ourselves.
As the financial markets, banks and businesses adjust and even reinvent themselves in response to the meltdown of 2008, there seems little doubt that corporate travel departments, conference planners and individual business travelers will take a hard look at their travel needs. There may not be any less business travel, and there could even be a greater demand, given the increasingly globalized business community and the need for organizations and institutions to put their houses in order. But, what is certain is that value for money spent will be the very highest priority in making travel decisions.
There are two other new realities, however, that also affect how we meet the needs and expectations of corporate or conference guests. The first is the profoundly changed customer-supplier relationship. Largely thanks to technology and online communications, today's consumers are in charge. With 24/7 access to information and interactive communication on a global basis, they are no longer the passive recipients of our sales pitch. This too has enormous implications for how we treat our business guests.
The other reality is the blurring of work and play. For a variety of reasons, business travelers increasingly expect, and in many cases are encouraged by their companies, to combine productive work with leisure and social activities. Obviously, this also has implications for what we offer the corporate guest.
This said, let me put my suggestions for five essential, and inter-related, practices in catering to business travelers in the context of these realities.
Location, location, location