How to choose the right accommodation for your next business trip
If you’re a frequent business traveller, you have probably stayed at your fair share of utilitarian business hotels. But 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 wifi is non-negotiable. It has to be clean, comfortable and conveniently located. There should be a flat-screen TV, high-end toiletries and luxurious linens for the best sleep. However, a business hotel is more than just the right amenities and a comfortable pillow. 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.
Oz Desai, General Manager Corporate Traveller, offers tips on how to choose 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 wifi 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,” explained Desai.
With an increasingly multigenerational workforce and shifts in business travel preferences and behaviours, the hospitality industry, like the travel industry, is adapting and offering more creative and customised solutions. There’s more personalisation, tailored and blended tech, better value for money, full transparency and assured security for both the traveller and their manager.
Business travellers expect seamless integration of technology that’s suited to their needs.Desai said the consumerisation of corporate travel is currently taking place.
By acknowledging the importance of human interactions (e.g. between the traveller and agent or consultant) amid 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 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?
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.
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.
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.