According to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Foundation, U.S. business travel spending rose 6.3% in the second quarter of 2011 compared to the second quarter of 2010. Furthermore, GBTA predicts that overall 2011 spending by business travelers will be roughly 7% higher than 2010.
Is your hotel up to par with those industry averages? Have you seen a steady increase in business travelers over the past year? If not, perhaps it’s time for a website and marketing “tune up” – one that ensures your site is getting found by business travelers, providing them the information they need and converting them into bookers.
Assuming your property has an independent website, here are some tactics to realize an increase in business travelers:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – The foundation for website marketing.
Business travelers use natural search to find hotels the same way leisure travelers do. Many searches will be based on geographic and landmark terms like “downtown St. Louis hotel” or “Savannah suites.” Business travelers often take it a step further, though, and search for specific business or event terms. For example, “hotels near CSX offices” or “Orange County Convention Center Hotels.” Optimize your site to focus on large local businesses, conventions, meeting spaces and other key drivers for business travelers to visit your area.
Pay-per-click Ads (PPC) – Use PPC ad campaigns to quickly boost visibility during periods of high business travel to your area.
Is there a large trade show or conference in town? Is there a new hospital being constructed a mile from your property? Any situation that calls for a large influx of business travelers can usually call for a new PPC campaign. Determining an appropriate budget for your property, using professionally written ads and directing business travel shoppers to relevant web pages is a key ingredient.
Corporate Travel Web Pages – Show business travelers you understand their unique needs by providing beneficial information and resources in one convenient spot.
A “Business Travelers” or “Corporate Travelers” link should be on your homepage’s main navigation. Just like any travel shopper, you have little time to get business travelers’ attention. With one click, they should arrive at a page that provides everything they need to know about your property. Include a list of business amenities, things like business center, free Wi-Fi, parking rates, distance from major businesses, conventions centers and airports, etc. You can provide links to businesses and convention centers, maps and a local area guide for entertainment after business hours.
Promotions – Offer specials and promotions exclusive for business travelers.
With 46% of business travelers working under “tight” budgets through the remainder of the year (according to GBTA), expenses like room rates are quite important. Offering exclusive promotions helps entice shoppers, including corporate travel planners, and increase conversions. Maybe offers like “second night half price with any two night stay” or “free parking and shuttles for business travelers.” Reaching past guests, other business travelers and travel planners that are in your database via email with special promotion codes should definitely be part of the equation.
Loyalty Programs – Implement business travel loyalty programs.
Business travelers often make repeat trips to the same cities and areas, so why not stay at the same hotel? Offering business travelers consistent service and incentive laden loyalty programs is an ideal way to generate valuable repeat business.
Integrating all of the above strategies, or using them in combinations with consistent messaging, is crucial. Although PPC may not be appropriate to run year round and constant deep promotions may not be feasible, utilizing all of these strategies with appropriate timing and implementation is the best way to reach and persuade business travelers. There are too many shopping channels, and often too much competition, to do otherwise.
Whether business travelers are a small portion of your hotel’s annual revenue, or your target market and main revenue stream, the aforementioned tactics will help boost bookings. Hotels in markets with large corporate travel demand - specifically hotels near large corporations and convention centers - should put an emphasis on these strategies. Hotels that are in smaller markets or “tourist” areas should only emphasize these during appropriate time periods. Either way, as business travel makes a full recovery, your hotel should be primed to take advantage and increase revenue.
This article is brought to you by VIZERGY. VIZERGY is an award-winning website development and Internet marketing company specializing in providing innovative digital solutions for the hospitality industry. VIZERGY offers complete web presence management, including website design, mobile design, Internet marketing, search marketing, email marketing, reservation services and social media strategies that help hoteliers turn their website into their most-effective distribution channel. Helping drive online revenue since 1998, the company has propelled thousands of branded and independent hotels, resorts and property management groups to success.
Logos, product and company names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.