The increase in popularity for business travelers to use home-sharing services, such as Airbnb and HomeAway has soared in recent years. According to US travel management company, Concur, the market has seen an astonishing 57% growth from 2015 to 2016.
The global business travel sector as a whole is seeing record figures. In 2015, the market was worth an incredible 1.2 trillion (yes trillion) dollars, with figures set to reach 1.6 trillion by 2020.
Research also shows that business travelers stay longer in a vacation rental, with an average of five nights, compared to just three in hotel accommodation – often using the trip as an excuse to combine a few days of extended leisure leave. “Bleisure” or “bizcation” trips are a great way for owners to increase medium-stay bookings during the low and mid-season period.
Business travelers also spend more, on average €467 per trip, and they tend to be more agile in their use of accommodation. They will be out on business for much of the day, may eat out with clients or colleagues; using the accommodation as somewhere to literally lay their hat at the end of a busy day.
Learning some of the ways you can deliver accommodation solutions for business travelers through your vacation rental could lead you to enjoy more bookings out of season.
A business class experience
What’s the biggest selling point of a vacation rental: home-from-home comfort? Space? Flexibility? All of the above?
Business travelers used to staying in hotel accommodation will be accustomed to comforts such as daily cleaning and a concierge service. When competing with hotels and serviced apartments, you have to be able to match their product and surpass it; providing similar comforts in a more relaxed and comfortable environment. Give them a place to retreat to after their busy day, complete with essentials like:
Top brand toiletries – make it easy for guests to travel light and buy brands worth booking for
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
Devices that make it easy to work from your home – printer, phone line, even a laptop or desktop computer if necessary
Fast WiFi – an absolute must for business travelers, who need to stay in touch with the office, answer emails and work during their stay.
Space for work and leisure
Corporate travel teams tend to choose accommodation based on being able to stay close as a group. They will need a solution that can offer space, flexibility and a place where their team can bond, dine together, or have briefings before they go to meet clients. They may want to invite clients for meetings or to entertain them after a successful negotiation. If you have a spacious property – city townhouse or villa on the outskirts of town, for example, think about how you can tailor your message for the business traveler.
Sell the idea that your elegant dining room can be used for meetings, and you can organise the hire of any presentation equipment needed. Or perhaps your spacious terrace is perfect for client entertainment. Isn’t that more inspiring than renting a boring old hotel meeting room with a couple of stale croissants and cold coffee?
A concierge service for all their needs
Corporate travelers will be used to ringing the bell for concierge and getting someone to run errands and make bookings for them.
So make sure you or your property manager is on hand to offer a concierge service. Be prepared to organise transport, book attractions, corporate golf or activities, and recommend the best restaurants in the local area.
Don’t forget that all of these these extras, including housekeeping, will be subject to a surcharge, so you won’t be losing out by providing added-value services. Find the right local businesses to partner with and you’ll be able to increase your rental income through commissions and affiliations.
Easy access to transport and parking
A business traveler is looking for accommodation that makes their trip easy. They are not looking to explore your neighborhood, they just want to get from A to B as quickly and efficiently as possible. They will be looking for a solution within easy reach of meeting locations, somewhere with good transport facilities, or easy parking.
As business travel stays tend to be short, on average three to five nights, they are less likely to want to hire a car, especially if they are not familiar with destination. Providing an airport or station ‘pick-up’ service takes away the hassle of queuing for a taxi or working out which bus or train to catch after a long journey. You could even extend this and offer transport for them to and from meetings.
“Generously ‘giving’ parking (i.e. including it in the rent) would be considered a godsend for travellers bringing their cars!”
Travelers coming from shorter distances may choose to take the car; especially self-employed or small business owners looking to save money on travel expenses. One of the biggest issues for them, however, 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 bigincentive to increase business travel or mid-week bookings.
Be where the business traveler books
Booking.com and Airbnb have launched heavily into the business travel market. So if you want to attract business travelers, it’s pretty much essential you list on at least one of these sites. 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.
Set promotions to attract the business traveler
Sales promotions can be considered costly, but it definitely pays off in increased customer loyalty; as managing business travel is always about finding value. Remember: consumers always prefer added value over discounts.
For bizcation guests, 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.
In return, help them to travel light: offer a free toiletry pack including all the necessities like toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo and shaving foam.
Shop and cook to compete with hotels
The corporate travel team will be tasked with keeping travel expenses down to a minimum. If a vacation rental stay can help reduce expenses such as daily restaurant bills, the option becomes even more appealing for them.
As a professional owner, you can offer to shop in advance of their stay, leaving them all they need to prepare a nightly meal. Or a personalised chef service could be perfect for guests who don’t want to cook, or dine out alone. You can organise pre-prepared meals to heat up when they get back, or a more varied menu for group travelers.
Offering a catering service for group travelers, or for guests who want to host client dinners, is another major plus point for corporate groups and high profile travelers.
Provide an invoice
Finally, if you want to take business travel bookings, you will probably be asked to provide an invoice. So you’ll need to research the tax and financial aspects of accommodating business guests beforehand, in order to evaluate if it’s worth it from a tax perspective.
About the Author: Louise Brace is a vacation rental marketing strategist and copywriter. Her business Rental Tonic helps vacation rental owners and managers create truly winning holidays, maximise bookings, and run a profitable vacation rental business.
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