Millennial Business Travelers Desire Home Away from Home

Serviced Apartment Sector Delivers

By Sean Worker President & CEO, Bridge Street Global Hospitality | September 07, 2014

As the economy continues to improve, hotels are finally luring back business travelers, with business travel in the United States expected to increase by nearly six percent in 2014, and a continued upward trend anticipated into 2017. This is great news for the hospitality industry across the board, as business travel accounts for up to 40 percent of total revenues for hotels. But as business travel resurges above and beyond levels seen before the recession, many standard hotels are scrambling to find innovative ways to entice guests.

Today's business travelers want more from their work trips than days filled with meetings and working lunches, and nights spent in a cramped hotel room. This is, in large part, a result of the growing number of millennials who are entering the work force and beginning to participate in business travel. The millennial generation is made up of roughly 79 million people, with 20 percent of that population entering their peak spending years. According to a CNN report from earlier this year, millennials are expected to account for half of all business flights by 2020. Growing up with travel as a birthright, it is no surprise millennials are becoming larger influencers in the industry.

Millennial business travelers' preferences differ widely from those of non-millennial travelers, according to the same CNN report. Millennials tend to prefer more space and comfort, and are more likely than non-millennials to add leisure trips onto business travel, a trend dubbed 'bleisure travel,' with more than half of 18-30 year olds bringing a significant other with them on business trips. Additionally, brand loyalty isn't as strong as Baby Boomers' – millennials are open to new experiences, basing their decisions off a variety of factors, including social media reviews.

As bleisure is on business travelers' minds more than ever, serviced apartments meet the needs of both business and leisure guests with more spacious accommodations including the option of multiple bedrooms, and fully equipped kitchens to cook if so desired. Amenities ranging from in-suite Wi-Fi to premium TV channels, and desirable locations in international hot spots make for ideal living as well.

"Employees feel bleisure opportunities benefit them and add value to work assignments, contributing to higher job satisfaction and loyalty," noted Kelly Murphy, BridgeStreet Global Hospitality vice president of marketing, in a panel discussing "The Bleisure Principle" at the recent Serviced Apartment Summit.
"The majority of our guests surveyed have taken bleisure trips before, also noting they are equally or more likely to blend business and leisure travel in the future compared to five years ago. Emerging trends are important for the serviced apartment industry to not only be aware of, but to leverage, as our products benefit the needs of both the business and leisure guest," Murphy continued.

With more than 50,000 apartments in 60 countries, BridgeStreet Global Hospitality is the world's leading provider of serviced apartments and meets every need, whether guests are traveling for business or leisure and plan to stay three days, three weeks or three years. BridgeStreet's family of brands includes six-star Exclusive, five-star Residences, four-star ApartHotels and Living, three-star Places and two-star Stüdyo, offering the convenience of apartment living with a variety of service packages to offer each guest options based on location, price point and individual needs.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.