Business vs. Leisure Travelers: Understanding the Differences

20th Oct 2014

NB: This is an article written By : Aileen Hoang

A hotel’s business mix is commonly comprised of a different percentage of segments, such as business and leisure travelers. These segments of travelers are two separate entities that have different wants, needs and travel patterns. A better understanding of your business mix of leisure and business travelers can ultimately lead to more success for your hotel if action is taken according to their preferences.

Here are some important points to understand about business and leisure travelers and a few ways for hoteliers to cater to these two segments.

Understanding business travelers

1. Location is key:
While traveling for business, travelers are at the beck and call of scheduled meetings, presentations, etc.; which is precisely why a hotel’s location is one of the top priorities for business travelers. Their hotel options are limited, as they demand   a convenient location that is close to their conference or convention venue that will allow them to go to their meeting point in a short time frame. It is important for hotels that are close to convention centers or other meeting areas to put a large emphasis on their location to draw in business travelers to their hotel.

2. The need to be constantly connected:
Naturally, business travelers are constantly using their mobile phone or other devices to remain connected with their clients and colleagues during their business trips. Being able to access their email, join a video meeting or open large file attachments quickly and efficiently is extremely important to the business traveler segment. Hotels that don’t offer fast WiFi or any internet access at all, would not be an ideal place for business travelers. With the growing age of constantly connected travelers, the debate of offering WiFi is now a must in the hospitality industry.

3. Make more loyal hotel guests:
Due to the higher frequency of travel and less time spent on the booking process, business travelers have a higher tendency to stick with certain hotels that meet their criteria compared to leisure travelers. In fact, 65% of business travelers belong to a hotel loyalty program, according to a recent study from Google. Offering a great hotel loyalty program that offers loyal guests with special offers, free upgrades and/or free services, is an excellent way to keep business travelers returning to the hotel for their business trips.

4. Emphasize the necessity for all-inclusive amenities:
Hotels that offer all of the necessary amenities that business travelers need to prepare for their work in the morning is of great importance. Amenities like continental breakfast, a coffee maker, ironing board with iron and more necessary amenities for the morning prep are essential for business travelers. After a long day of work, business travelers also desire a seamless way to unwind in their hotel room. Not having a stocked minibar, functional air conditioner or fully equipped bathroom will not have business travelers returning to your hotel for their next business venture.

Understanding leisure travelers

1. Generally more price sensitive:
Unlike business travelers who generally spend more on their travels, leisure travelers tend to be more price sensitive than their business counterparts. According to Google’s 2014 Traveler Study, a majority of 63% of leisure travelers are price sensitive when deciding on which hotel to book with. Leisure travelers spend more time deciding on the most suitable hotel for their travels and also make a greater effort to find the best possible deal for their stay. To make it easier for guests to find the lowest and best price, providing a booking tool that allows for guests to search in real-time within their budget is extremely helpful to cater to leisure travelers.

2. Strong consideration for reviews and recommendations:
When deciding on a place to stay, leisure travelers turn to their family, friends, colleagues and online reviews for recommendations more so than business travelers who rely on company recommendations and also online reviews. As stated by Google’s Traveler Study, 82% of leisure travelers consider reviews to be very to somewhat important, compared to 77% of business travelers. For leisure travelers, a large amount of negative reviews removes a hotel from their choice set, but would otherwise prefer to pay the lowest price. Therefore, it is imperative for hoteliers to regularly respond to reviews and resolve issues that are presented to them through travel review websites. Additionally, since leisure travelers also rely on recommendations of those closest to them, a hotel referral program can offer great benefits. For example, a points-based system which offers discounts or upgrades for guests that recommend their family and friends to stay at the hotel is another viable method for hotels to gain more business.

3. Greater attraction to packages and specials:
Leisure travelers are always looking for ways to improve their travel experience, which is the reason why they are more drawn to hotel packages than business travelers. Equipped with the mindset of having a great vacation experience, the majority of leisure travelers are looking for hotels that provide them with incentives to stay there than any other hotel. There are plenty of different packages that hoteliers can create for guests, such as providing a package that is associated with a large event in the city, walking tours around the most popular tourist destinations in the area, itineraries for family fun or romantic getaways and much more. This is the opportunity for hoteliers to get creative, do their research on the biggest demand generators in their area and utilize this valuable information to increase the number of guests to the hotel through packages.

4. Desires extra on-site hotel facilities:

Leisure travelers have a greater appreciation for the extra “frills” that hotels offer to their guests. For example, a hotel that offers a pool, fitness area or a restaurant receives a lot more bonus points for leisure travelers. Therefore, it makes it no secret that hotels that offer extra facilities and amenities are much more appealing to leisure travelers than hotels that don’t offer these extras. Business travelers on the other hand, do not put as much emphasis on these hotel extras than leisure travelers do. So, if your business mix is mostly comprised of leisure travelers, it is beneficial to highlight your hotel’s extra facilities and amenities to attract these type of guests.

In order to have a successful business, it is important to understand the needs and wants of your customers. The same concept applies for hotels, as it is not only important to acknowledge your guests’ preferences, but also to understand the differences of your business and leisure traveler segments.

By better understanding your business mix, hoteliers are able to market to these different segments with greater effectiveness. Taking the time to understand and research the differences of your business mix, such as business and leisure travelers, can only help to improve your hotel’s influence on guests by providing them with what they truly want in their travel experience.

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