How Data Science Drives Relevance in Business Travel Bookings

By Andrew Dyer Vice President of Global Supply, Egencia | January 07, 2018

Often in a hurry, and subject to per diem rate caps, it is no surprise that corporate travelers prize convenience and price above all else. According to Egencia's 4th Edition Business Travel and Technology Survey, business travelers rank price and location above access to loyalty points when it comes to choosing a hotel. In fact, the survey indicates that the primary reasons why corporate travelers book out of policy are failure to find an in-policy property within close proximity to their destination, and finding a better-priced hotel within their per diem. Loyalty points and access to upgrades fall lower on the list.

For those with a travel policy in place, more than half are allowed to book their travel using any method they choose, and many of them still go rogue when booking a hotel. With a multitude of hotel choices at their fingertips, it's important for hoteliers to cut through the clutter and capture business travelers by serving them the lodging options that they are truly looking for. Armed with the knowledge that business travelers respond primarily to factors related to convenience and price, hoteliers should build their offer accordingly and use loyalty as an important secondary method of capturing corporate demand.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Business travelers face constant demands on their time, and rely on their travel booking tools to curate and present simple, relevant hotel options. From a hotelier's perspective, it is critical to ensure that your corporate-friendly offering is both relevant and, just as important, visible.

An incredible 75 percent of business travelers only scroll through the first seven hotel listings on Egencia before they book, and 55 percent book from the top three listings. Their booking behavior indicates that they prefer a swift and simplified booking process, and that they rely on technology to give them hotel options personalized to their needs. To optimize any booking tool, a hotelier must understand both what a customer wants and how content is surfaced. With that in mind, a hotelier can craft the most effective offer and drive the highest ROI by capturing the top spots most visible to the traveler and most likely to be booked.

Although convenience is king, many booking tools highlight non-price-related rate attributes such as early check-in, late check-out, free WiFi, breakfast and access to loyalty points. This provides an opportunity for differentiation, particularly amongst the top-listed properties.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.