Corporate travel is starting to pick up after the industry practically grounded to a halt during the COVID pandemic in 2020 and 2021. This means business travelers are on the move again and looking for alternative accommodation to suit their changing needs.
Now is a great time to market your vacation rental to corporate travelers who prefer apartments and vacation rentals to hotels as an extension of pandemic trends.
Hosting business travelers can be a great way to secure repeat business and fill your calendar during off-peak periods as it is not season or weather dependent.
The recovery of business travel is just around the corner
Although U.S domestic business travel spending is expected to reach 76% of 2019 levels in 2022, the business travel market is not expected to fully recover from the impact of the pandemic until 2024.
However, changes in the business travel market offer great opportunities for short-term rental owners. For example, the shift to remote working has caused a blurring between vacation and business travelers, which is great news for rental owners able to offer a combination of home comforts and holiday experiences.
On top of this, corporate travelers are increasingly extending business trips with a personal vacation on either side of their trip since they can work from anywhere, according to Concur.
These trends are also reflected in Lodgify’s own Vacation Rental Industry Report, which predicts longer stays in 2022 due to flexibility in the calendars of remote workers.
How to attract business travelers?
With that in mind, here are our top 10 tips for marketing your vacation rental to business travelers and boosting your bookings, even out of peak season.
Offer a business class experience
Before you start marketing your business, you need to have a valuable product for your target market. The first step is to work out: What do business travelers need and how can you create a five-star experience for business guests?
The most important factor will always be fast and free WiFi, of course. This is an absolute must for business travelers, who need to stay in touch with the office, answer emails and work during their stay.
In addition, providing devices that make it easy to work from home – a printer, laptop, or monitor could help to create an office away from the office. Sufficient power outlets are an important detail.
An ergonomic office chair and desk in a workspace with a pleasant view and in a quiet environment will also be attractive for remote workers. Be sure to include these facilities on your website or Airbnb for work listings and descriptions.
A coffee machine with a bottomless supply of capsules, some healthy herbal tea options, and water are other essentials.
Highlight wellness options
Corporate travelers who spend hours sitting at desks, in cars or on trains and planes, appreciate options to help them stay in shape. Consider offering complimentary access to a local gym or linking up with a local personal trainer who can give them a workout at home. Nearby running tracks or scenic walks are other things to point out when marketing to business travelers.
Healthy food delivery services, massages and other wellness services are other options to offer through collaborations with other service providers.
A yoga mat and a set of kettlebells in the room, or even a running machine, could also be good additions to your rental property.
Make theirs a personalized experience
Travelers are increasingly looking for personalized experiences and business travel is no exception. This type of traveler often stays longer and visits the same location frequently, which is an opportunity for repeat business. Ask your business guest how you can make their stay better and take note of their preferences, so you can cater to their needs during a follow-up visit. Every small detail counts, for example, how they take their coffee or what is their preferred method of payment.
Be flexible when it comes to check-ins and check-outs as this will give you the edge over competitors when catering to travelers with complicated schedules.
Use automated messages to send instructions to your guests in advance, for example detailing the directions to the property or check-in procedures
Stay in touch with regular customers via email and Whatsapp to let them know about new facilities or developments in your area that they may find interesting.
Make life easy for them
Business travelers are used to staying in hotel accommodation and enjoying comforts such as daily cleaning. When competing with hotels and serviced apartments, you have to provide similar comforts in a more relaxed and comfortable environment. Give them a place to retreat to after a long day, complete with essentials such as:
- Top brand toiletries – allow them to travel light and buy brands worth booking for, as well as offering essentials such as a tooth cleaning and sewing kit.
- High-quality bedding – an essential if you want to compete with hotel accommodation
- A daily housekeeping service – business travelers familiar with hotel stays will be used to having their bed made each day and having their breakfast tray removed. By offering this, you’re making a vacation rental stay easy and much more attractive. A washing machine, tumble dryer and ironing board available for them to use could also be attractive.
Provide a concierge service for all their needs
Be prepared to organize transport, book attractions, and corporate activities, and recommend the best restaurants in the local area and client meetings. Find the right local businesses to partner with to offer additional services such as beauty treatments or fitness classes, and increase your rental income through commissions and affiliations.
Make the most of these added-value services in your listings and marketing materials. Consider publishing a guide on your website about the best things to do for business travelers or the best business lunches in your neighborhood to draw the attention of potential clients.
Highlight easy access to transport and parking
A business traveler will appreciate nearby transport facilities, or easy parking to help them move easily from point A to point B for in-person meetings.
Consider providing an airport or station ‘pick-up’ service to take away the hassle of queuing for a taxi or working out which bus or train to catch after a long journey. You could even offer transport to and from meetings.
Travelers coming from shorter distances may choose to take the car or some may rent a car. One of the biggest issues for them will be the price of parking. If you have a city-based vacation rental, which benefits from a parking space albeit paid for, offering free parking could be a big incentive to increase business travel or mid-week bookings.
Add your property as an Airbnb business travel listing
Airbnb and Booking.com have launched heavily into the business travel market. So if you want to attract business travelers, it’s important to list on at least one of these online travel agencies (OTAs).
Both have dedicated corporate travel management channels, with a ‘business-ready’ listing option for accommodation owners who want to promote their vacation rental to this market. This tailors the user search with suitable accommodation, as well as displaying reviews from business travelers.
To attract direct bookings, you should also have your own website, which can be integrated and synchronized with the other channels through an affordable and efficient vacation rental channel manager.
On your website, differentiate between business and leisure travelers, by for example having a different page targeted at each type of customer to avoid diluting your messages to your target audience.
Offer promotions for business travelers
Sales promotions can be costly, but it pays off in increased customer loyalty; as business consumers often prefer added value over discounts. For example, why not offer a discount for an extra night’s stay, e.g. four nights for the price of three? If it helps you fill normally empty weeks, it’s worth it.
Rebrand ‘Exclusive Guest Discounts’ as ‘Business Traveler Club’. Business guests can become loyal and valuable repeat guests, as they frequently travel to meet clients based in your location.
Help them cut down on travel expenses and make payment easy
As travel budgets shrink, the corporate traveler will try to cut back on travel expenses. If your vacation rental can help reduce expenses such as daily restaurant bills, the option becomes more appealing.
For example, highlight home cooking facilities and offer to shop in advance of their stay. Finally, if you want to encourage business travel bookings, make it easy for them to pay and keep track of travel expenses by offering itemized billing and invoices.
Encourage and highlight guest reviews
The best way to promote your small or medium-sized property to corporate clients is through reviews by business travelers who explain what their stay was like and why they would recommend your rental to others. Ask guests for reviews on sites such as Google, Tripadvisor and Yelp and share positive reviews on your social media channels and marketing materials.
Boost marketing efforts during business events
Stay on top of the latest business events such as trade fairs or exhibitions happening in your area and market your property for business rentals in the run-up to these events. You could include directions to the event venues on your website or a welcome book with instructions about accessing the event from your venue, etc.
Business travel is starting to pick up again after a near standstill during the pandemic, but the new type of corporate traveler has different needs which can easily be met by vacation rental owners who know how to market their business to this lucrative sector of the travel market.