Defined as business travel with some form of leisure time included, the hospitality industry has seen a sharp rise in “blended travel” since the pandemic. Highlighted as a Skift ‘Megatrend’ this year, the blended travel market hit $497.5 billion in 2022, with two in five corporate travelers requesting to add personal activities to their trips.
Many small- to medium-sized businesses are taking notice by offering these types of flexible work scenarios to attract talent. This means that hoteliers looking to court blended travelers will need a clear strategy to appeal to these audiences, ranging from digital nomads to corporate event attendees. The following tips will help you get started.
Use data to identify your core audience and what they care about
Analyze the data you have, whether it’s business intelligence insights or from a guest management solution to identify patterns and trends. Look at when and how travelers are booking, why they are extending their stay, and for how long. This will help you understand your target audience, so you have a starting point on how to deliver positive experiences that foster loyalty.
Once you know who your core audience is, you can apply this information to your marketing and operational strategies. For instance, if blended travelers typically arrive at your hotel as part of a corporate group, showcase appropriate offers and workspaces alongside incentives to extend stays.
Alternatively, if blended travelers typically arrive solo to your property and for longer, consider what would appeal to them - perhaps a guest suite with a kitchen or a guided city tour.
Use data to your advantage. It will reveal critical information about travelers and guide your business decisions to unlock revenue.
Streamline your marketing to maximize impact and reach
Good data will inform a successful marketing plan, allowing you to deliver the right offer to the right traveler at the right time.
Consider how many blended travelers use corporate travel agents or other distribution platforms. As a hotelier, you’ll want to boost listings or run ads across a variety of channels to gain awareness, drive bookings, and upsell your property.
Through targeted marketing, you can showcase packages and amenities like larger rooms and dedicated workspaces to incentivize people to extend their stay or upgrade. To ensure that your marketing is as successful as it could be, check that your website supports your marketing approach. If not, update the areas relevant to blended travelers – event and meeting space, Wi-Fi, audio/visual, catering, restaurants, spa, pool, etc.
Focus on operations to appeal to the business side of blended travelers
These guests are business travelers first, leisure travelers second. This means that efficiency is a high priority for their stay. First impressions count, so a streamlined check-in is crucial. Additionally, offering this service on mobile reduces check-in time by 70%, and is the preferred mode of checking-in by 90% of millennials.
- According to HTs 12th annual 2023 Customer Engagement Technology Study, 52% of customers are very or somewhat satisfied with hotel self check-in.
Another way to ensure a great first impression is to anticipate your guests’ needs pre-arrival. Blended travelers will typically have some standard requests, like having access to meeting rooms or workspaces. Consider having their preferred snacks and drinks waiting in that meeting room upon arrival, and extra towels or hygienic items sent to their rooms along with discount coupons and brochures promoting leisure activities in the area. Use data insights and customer profiles to know where to focus in advance and have the proper amenities and thoughtful touches set up and ready upon their arrival.
It's also very important to make sure that blended travelers have the facilities they need to work in their preferred way. Offering options such as the addition of computer monitors in their guest room workspace could be a significant differentiator for travelers weighing their options. Equally, make sure that working necessities like strong Wi-Fi, quiet spaces, and plentiful electric sockets are available.
To go above and beyond, ensure that blended travelers can enjoy the amenities associated with standard leisure trips too. For instance, how you can accommodate blended travelers who may be busy working in their room at the times when housekeepers would normally clean.
Enhance the guest experience to foster loyal, returning leisure customers
Because of the dual nature of their trips, blended travelers also seek experiences that appeal to their personal interests outside of their corporate day to day.
As a hotelier, consider ways you can enhance the blended guest experience. With dedicated workspaces that seamlessly transition to lounge areas with a 5pm happy hour? How about extending the hours the spa, pool, or golf course is open so corporate guests can use them before or after their shift? You could even organize a nighttime city tour with a local vendor to accommodate different schedules, or partner with unique dining, sport, or entertainment providers.
Offering flexibility and options that blended travelers can enjoy throughout their trip will foster guest loyalty, especially for those returning frequently to the same location. Consider creating custom packages that are designed for a blended audience with some of the suggestions above that would entice them into further extending their stay.
Blended travelers are a key demographic for hoteliers, but they are an increasingly diverse group, ranging from the corporate event attendee to the solo digital nomad. It’s hard to appeal to everyone across this spectrum, so define your target audience and grow an understanding of them through data. This will inform everything from how you use promotions, to designing check-in or how your common areas change from day to night. Being able to anticipate the needs of blended travelers will set you apart from other hotels – and deliver big returns as blended travel grows.
About the Author
Joe Youssef is Executive Vice President, Commercial for North America, Hospitality, Amadeus