If you’re a frequent business traveller, you have probably stayed at your fair share of utilitarian business hotels – eventually, the breakfast buffets and friendly concierge faces can start blurring together. But the right accommodation should leave you feeling refreshed and energised, ready to tackle your business engagements during the day – after all, that’s the whole purpose of the trip.
Whether you’re content with the familiar uniformity of big hotel chains or are always seeking out eclectic boutique lodgings, the basics must be there. Reliable Wi-Fi is non-negotiable. Clean, comfortable, conveniently located – of course. A flat-screen TV, high-end toiletries, luxurious linens – certainly these are on the wishlist.
However, a business hotel is more than just the right amenities and a comfortable pillow upon which to rest your head. And the experience encompasses more than just facilities. It doesn’t matter how great that rainfall shower head was if you’re left stressing about security or confronted with unanticipated extras added to your bill.
The right accommodation should leave you feeling refreshed and energised, ready to tackle your business engagements during the day – after all, that’s the whole purpose of the trip.
Oz Desai, General Manager, Corporate Traveller, highlights a few important things you should consider when choosing the right accommodation for your next business trip.
A friction-free experience
The last thing you want to deal with when you’re travelling for work is a complicated hotel booking, poor in-room Wi-Fi or an interrupted night’s sleep in a street-facing room.
“Ultimately great business accommodation is one that anticipates the needs of corporate travellers and removes any possibility of friction, from booking to check-out,” explains Desai.
But these needs are not static or one-size-fits-all.
With an increasingly multigenerational workforce and shifts in business travel preferences and behaviours, the hospitality industry, like the travel industry as a whole, is adapting and offering more creative and customised solutions.
What this means is a whole lot of personalisation, tailored and blended tech, better value for money, full transparency and assured security for both the traveller and their manager.
Long gone are the days of the hotel business centre and its humming fleet of desktops. It’s 2020, and business travellers expect seamless integration of technology, available at their fingertips and uniquely suited to their needs.
“The consumerisation of corporate travel is definitely happening. Travellers are telling us that when they travel for leisure, they have amazing tools, but when it comes to company trips, they have nothing. That is why Corporate Traveller has invested in traveller-centric solutions to change the perception of corporate travel and make it exciting again,” says Desai.
And a great vehicle for traveller-centricity is blended technology.
By acknowledging the importance of human interactions (e.g. between the traveller and agent or consultant) amidst this new age of innovation and digitisation, blended technology manages to be inclusive of varying tech preferences and proficiencies for a multigenerational workforce.
Corporate Traveller’s chatbot Sam:] is the perfect example of traveller-centric technology. Behind the chatbot’s Artificial Intelligence is integrated travel consultant support that users can tap into via a live text or phone chat if the need arises.
Shared economy shortcomings
The sharing economy is great. It can give individuals more independence and choice. It promises an authentic and intimate experience and possibly even some cost savings.
However, despite the appeal to ‘live like a local’ during your business trip, you may just want to save that swanky-looking sharing accommodation flat for your next leisure trip.
Booking through a sharing economy platform creates a much higher chance of creating traveller friction than when booking a vetted, in-policy property through a reputable travel management specialist.
Imagine arriving at your accommodation only to find that that there’s nobody to let you in. And what do you do when the images online do not accurately reflect the reality?
If something like this occurs with a key hotel group, a TMC partner can step in, no matter the time. Through these relationships, their team of travel specialists has more control and capability to rectify the situation swiftly and effectively, ensuring your stay is friction-free.
Value beyond room rates
As the accommodation market hones in on consumer behaviour, it grows increasingly adept at adjusting pricing to maximise profits. In response, more travellers are turning to online sites to shop around in an attempt to find the ‘best’ price.
But as with the sharing economy, snapping up the lowest accommodation rate may not actually translate to the best value. Hidden costs related to changes and cancellations, as well as more limited payment options are common on these public platforms.
In contrast, a reputable TMC can add value beyond the room rate. A TMC has access to more forgiving cancellation policies and flexible terms. It can further negotiate rates with key accommodation providers and jump in if something doesn’t go to plan.
This is also where loyalty and reward programmes can pay off – literally. Book an in-policy accommodation through your travel management programme, and you may receive extras and upgrades that elude the online booking customer.
Duty of care
Choosing a reliable and safe hotel is an integral part of travel risk control and should be a key priority of your company’s duty of care policy. However, according to International SOS, only 24% of organisations implement safety and security checks for hotels or accommodation.
Mitigating accommodation-related risks may mean your company needs to dedicate time to extensive research or expensive assessments. However, the cost of not addressing accommodation-related risks could result in travellers feeling unsafe, being unwilling to travel, or perhaps even exposed to physical harm.
In South Africa, there is always an additional layer of risk and security, along with a higher incidence of fraud, that travellers and their managers must consider. Working with a reputable TMC that understands the local market and its risk profile will help you and your company navigate the nuances of travel in South Africa and the rest of the continent.
Corporate Traveller recognises this need for localised duty of care solutions that keep travellers safe and happy, managers reassured and business ticking away.
“Although we are a global company, we have the local knowledge to assist and understand the South African traveller through our six local offices. Africa brings a very unique set of challenges as a corporate business destination, which is why we believe that the South African traveller requires a very high level of service and personalisation with expert advice on services and duty of care,” concludes Desai.