How to Attract Business Travelers

By Lynne McNees President, International Spa Association | July 27, 2014

As the spa industry continues to grow internationally, the business traveler is an increasingly important guest to consider when designing menu offerings and considering marketing strategies. Business guests are beginning to make up a major purchasing force at resort spas around the world, with some hotel spas reporting as much as 70 percent of their clientele as business travelers.

According to the International SPA Association (ISPA) 2013 U.S. Spa Industry study conducted by PwC, 72 percent of American hotel and resort spas in 2012 offered 30-minute treatments. This figure shows how hotels are rapidly equipping themselves to cater to the spa needs of business guests. Business travelers are typified by little time and higher-than-average levels of stress – and spas need to adapt to their demands for short, simple, efficient and results-oriented treatments.

Furthermore, business travelers are often among the savviest of spa-goers. With the increasing popularity of spa services among this fast-paced, frequently-stressed demographic, spas-resort and day alike-must learn how to cater to clients who lack the ample time that usually accompanies a spa service.

The Business Spa-Goer: Less Time, More Stress

The World Health Organization says that by 2020 the top five diseases will all have an underlying contributing factor of stress – as a result, it is likely that stress will more increasingly be the number one factor driving individuals to make use of spas. And there's nothing more stressful than traveling – making business travelers a group particularly likely to appreciate a spa service.

The business traveler is typified by two major qualities that are relevant to spas: little time and higher-than-average levels of stress. As a result, the typical business spa-goer is looking for simple, efficient, results-oriented treatments. Time is a commodity-and it's in short supply. As such, spa guests traveling on business are looking to find a balance they can squeeze into short breaks between meetings, presentations and travel time.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.