Business travel is the oldest form of travel. When you study trade in the ancient world, you discover that most trade routes catered to business travelers as they traded goods around the globe. From historical times to 21st CE, business travel forms a big segment of the travel industry statistics. Although leisure travel is the flavor of our times, ably supported by the flaunting space provided by the social media platforms, business travel remains at the core of the business as well as the travel industry.
Most of my travels during my corporate career were business travels. At times they gave me weekend windows for my exploratory travels, and sometimes they gave me a flavor of the place and a wish to come back to explore more. As a travel blogger too, all my media trips were essentially business travels in association with the travel industry.
Business travel needs are a bit different from leisure or family travel, as the purpose of the travel is different. Most business travel is done alone or with colleagues. Travel has a business purpose to meet. So, your hotel accommodation needs to cater to your business travel requirements. Though there are hotels that brand themselves as business hotels, most hotels serve both business and leisure travelers.
Luxury Business Hotels for Business Travelers
Let me share what I want in Business Hotels:
Quick Check-In / Check-Outs
Most luxury hotels check you in at leisure. I have spent as much as 45-60 minutes at the reception waiting for the check-in process to be completed. There is nothing more irritating when you have to rush for a meeting or a conference, refresh yourself and the lady at the reception keeps smiling while entering data at leisure. Then your luggage delivery takes its own sweet time.
The same goes for check-out. Too many people co-ordinate to check you out and you lose your precious time.
On a leisure trip, I can still accommodate this, but on a business trip, it is an absolute waste of time.
Large Clean & Well-Lit Desk
Interior designers of luxury hotels need to keep in mind this biggest requirement of a big and clean desk. By clean I do not mean free of dust but a desk with no cards, vases, or anything else placed on them. I need space to not just put my laptop comfortably but to be able to charge all my gadgets simultaneously.
Here I must add ample charging points. We travel with a whole lot of gadgets.
Nowadays, we are required to join conference calls from wherever we are, so we need video-call-friendly desks as well. This calls for good lighting, preferably on the same clean desk. Good acoustics would be a great advantage. An ability to switch on a Do Not Disturb mode from my desk would be appreciable.
When you stay in hotels that are spread out, the distant rooms often struggle for wi-fi signals or sometimes even mobile signals. Make sure there is a room-level router in a business hotel as wi-fi is a key requirement.
Sometimes hotels tend to charge for high-speed connections while offering free low-speed ones. For business travelers high-speed reliable internet connection is non-negotiable.
Private Meeting Spaces
Private meeting rooms that can allow 2-3 persons to small conference rooms should be available. During business travel, most of us try and meet as many people as possible, for business is a game of exploring opportunities.
The easy availability of rooms means that most guests would end up using the hotel’s F&B Services instead of searching for noisy cafes in the vicinity.
Single Person Meals
Single travelers constantly face the dilemma of wasting food or ordering fewer items than they want. As a business traveler, I want the food to be simple, as close as possible to my home food. There may be one-off dinners or business meets where we want to try your gourmet cuisine. Most days, we want our comfort food in quantities that one person can consume.
I understand the food portions requirements vary from person to person. Male diets are usually bigger than female diets. Food & Beverage departments really need to be creative and innovative in making sure that they serve nutritious meals with zero food wastage. I have often requested smaller portions and received the standard one. The answer is always – You can have as much as you want, leave the rest. No, we need to together bring down this wastage.
I think if only you listen to the customers, wastage would come down drastically. Most Indians do believe in food or Anna being a Devata that must be respected.
Read More – 13 Things I Want in Luxury Hotels
Laundry services are mostly needed if we are using the hotel for more than a few nights. Most business travels are short and quick. However, we do need ironing services as the clothes never remain well-ironed in a suitcase that is thrown around at airports.
Most hotels now offer an iron box and ironing board in the room, but I have often struggled to use them. As a woman traveler, it is tough to take off the ironing board from the high hook and then look for a space to plugin and then spend time ironing out formal clothes. It would be much easier to have the clothes ironed at a reasonable cost or bundled in the cost of the room.
Value your Repeat Customers
Business travelers often travel to the same locations repeatedly and prefer to stay in the same hotel. It kind of becomes their home away from home. However, most hotel systems of books using technology fail to identify them as repeat and loyal customers. You can give them personalized services or remember their default choices. Believe me, it would delight them.
For example, I am a Chai person and it takes me a long time to tell the housekeeping staff to not keep coffee sachets in my room, instead keep classic masala tea options. They simply go by their standard routine. Small customization would make me feel welcome and save time and energy.
It is a great opportunity to build your customer relationship by making these customers feel at home, trusted, and valued. Do not let the invisible layer of technology kill the warmth between your company and its loyal customers.
Separate Floor for Business Travelers
If you cater to both business and leisure travelers, try segregating them on different floors. Leisure travelers are here to enjoy, most probably with kids. They tend to make noise that can be disturbing to business travelers, especially with kids running around in the corridors.
Phone for Inbound Travelers
Getting a working SIM Card in India is a hassle. It takes a lot of time and documentation to get one activated. In one of the hotels in Singapore, I was given a pre-loaded phone to use for the duration of my stay. I could make and receive calls within Singapore. Plus, I had mobile data on the go. All this was included in the room rent. Believe me, it was one of the best conveniences offered by a hotel.
So, for non-resident business travelers, a working phone is a blessing.
Read More – Best Luxury Experiences in India
Create Business opportunities
If you primarily cater to business travelers, create a space where your customers can interact with each other. Something like backpacking hotels have for their customers – a small library or a lounge or a rooftop dining option that allows them to mingle. Who knows, you may be the breeding ground for new business ideas like Medici Effect.
How to Choose the Right Business Hotel?
Location is one of the most important factors to choose a business hotel. Most big cities have traffic congestion, especially during peak office hours. So, choosing a hotel close to your office or client location helps you save precious time.
If your workplace is located far from the city, like most factories are, choose a hotel close to it. In case you have to take an early morning flight then choosing a hotel close to the airport makes sense.
Most Online Travel Operators now let you choose hotels as per the location. Do check the local transportation options. I remember in Dwarka, my hotel was just 4-5 km outside the city and it was a pain to find local transportation early morning or late evening.
Services & Facilities
Check the services available to you as a business traveler.
- I would look for airport pick up and drop included in the hotel cost.
- As a traveler, I always try to see a bit of the city, so it is great when the hotel can help you with local sightseeing or arrange a walking tour for you.
- Facilities that let me do my fitness routine as usual. While most people look for a gym or a swimming pool, I would be happy attending Yoga classes. A good walking path for morning walks would be great.
- Reliable internet connection.
- Friendly staff that listens and understands your requirements.
What do you look for in Business Hotels?