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Travel brands typically focus on leisure travellers – the type of person looking for adventure and escape.

But what about those looking for basic comfort and convenience?

According to a survey from Booking.com, 93% of business travellers feel stressed at some point during their journey - unsurprising given the amount of logistics involved. From planning to managing expenses, and even without taking into account the actual work that needs to done, there’s a whole heap of hassle that goes along with corporate travel.

For brands, this traveller presents a unique opportunity. 

Not only is there less need to dazzle and delight with inspirational marketing, but thanks to the deep pockets of corporate companies, the budget can often be sizeable. Meanwhile, with a positive experience likely to result in repeat trips, business travel could prove to be a lucrative market.

Here’s how a few brands are setting their sights on it.

Airbnb

The ‘Airbnb for business’ program launched in 2015, signalling the brand’s intent to capture interest from corporate travellers, all the while proving how popular alternative accommodation has become.

The service allows companies to integrate their business travel itineraries, giving them a full run-down of where employees are staying and how much they’re spending. More recently, Airbnb has introduced a feature that allows employees to book on behalf of colleagues, making the service even more streamlined.

Since it launched, the program has enjoyed a period of growth, however recent data suggests that this could be slowing – mainly due to the companies choosing Airbnb spending as little as possible on short trips. Similarly, Airbnb for business is only seeing real success in cities where the hotel prices are notoriously high.

Airbnb is naturally trying to combat this by promoting longer stays and group trips, even offering £40 in travel credit, in order to encourage higher spend.

Booking.com

With a reported one in five customers using Booking.com for business travel, it’s no surprise the brand decided to launch its own business travel platform.

Designed to make the research and planning stage as easy as possible, it places a big focus on peer-to-peer reviews, sorting through the data to find accommodation that is ‘business traveller tested and approved’.  

This customer-centric approach is continued across the board, and reflected in the online UX.

After completing a simple registration, users can filter the search by ‘business interest’ like fitness centre or free cancellation. Arguably, the platform doesn't offer anything that much different to the main Booking.com platform, however the ability for company managers or administrators to coordinate plans for others is a key differentiator.

Since its launch, there have been suggestions that the brand will expand its business offering into flights - though there's been no sign of this so far.

STA

With millennials forecast to make up half of the workforce by 2020, the stereotype of the middle-aged business traveller no longer applies.

STA is tapping into this notion, launching a business travel brand to target young people with a desire to combine both business and pleasure.

Alongside young people starting their own business, students travelling for internships or first jobs, it also targets people who want to tag on a holiday at the end of a work trip.

With 78% of millennials choosing worthwhile experiences over possessions, it’s no surprise that this demand exists. It also bodes well for STA, with the move helping the brand to stay relevant to young people as they move into the workplace.

Marriot

STA isn’t the only travel brand to target business travellers with the promise of an experience.

Marriot’s Renaissance Hotels brand recently launched a new campaign to do just that. Called ‘The Navigator’s Table’, the video series features TV chef Andrew Zimmern from “Bizarre Foods”, and involves chefs and entrepreneurs offering insight and opinions on regional dishes. 

Essentially, it is designed to appeal to the modern business traveller – someone who is curious, and who wants to get as much out of a business trip as possible.

The frequency with which business travellers travel is largely the reason behind this marketing push. For a large hotel chain like Marriot, a single ‘authentic experience’ could result in multiple and repeat bookings in future – reason enough to pay them more attention.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 16 February, 2017 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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