Canadian business travellers find hotels lacking on important priorities

New study reveals perceived value of accommodation is chief deciding factor in hotel selection by business travellers

Hotels are missing the mark in a couple of key areas, according to a recent study of Canadian business travellers commissioned by Active International Canada. Respondents to the survey suggested their hotel experience could be improved with more free services: reliable Wi-Fi, parking, more “extras” such as newspapers, and either a complimentary or a better breakfast.

Free Wi-Fi an expectation, not an option

Complimentary Wi-Fi is now an expectation amongst all types of business traveller and is the most common suggestion given to improve the hotel experience. In addition, ambience and amenities play a large role in differentiating one hotel from another. One in five travellers surveyed recommended hotels improve their restaurants, undertake renovations or modernizations, or invest in better fitness centres.

“Overall, hotels are doing a good job meeting the needs of Canadian business travellers,” says Nikki Stone, vice-president business development, and head of travel at Active International Canada. “Good customer service and friendly, knowledgeable staff were commonly mentioned by the survey respondents when describing positive hotel experiences—while the top reasons for requesting different accommodation typically related to the quality and cleanliness of their room or poor service.”

Decentralized travel decision making

The study also reveals that travellers, not companies, most often make business travel decisions, including when to travel, what airline to fly with, which hotel chain to select and the type of hotel room to book.

Less than 20 per cent of people surveyed said their company has a central travel coordinator who must make all bookings. A large majority place their bookings directly with the hotel through the internet, telephone, or mobile app.

“Decentralization is an important consideration for hotels and airlines when deciding how to allocate sales and promotional budgets to reach key decision-makers,” adds Stone. “To be effective, they will need to target individual business travellers, as well as corporate travel departments and organizations.”

According to the study, price, room cleanliness and location are all important factors when travellers select a hotel, but not the only criteria travellers consider when making their decision. Loyalty programs, reliable Wi-Fi and online reviews are also important drivers.

Combining business and pleasure

Along with the trend to individual decision-making, blurred lines between business and personal travel are the new normal. Two-thirds of those surveyed have added personal days to a business trip and close to half sometimes or usually bring a spouse, friend or relative.

“Taking a personal day while traveling or bringing a friend are appreciated perks companies can encourage their travelling employees to enjoy at little or no cost to the organization,” says Stone. “Hotels could also profile this activity by seamlessly integrating a traveller’s business and personal stay – and reaping the benefit of extra revenue streams.”

As the world changes, so does the business traveller’s expectation of their hotel and what they are willing, or unwilling, to pay for. “The power is ultimately in the hands of the traveller,” says Stone. “Successful hotels and their banners will pay attention and cater to these traveller’s needs.”

About the study

Hotspex Inc. conducted the Business Traveller Study for Active International Canada from March 5-10, 2015. Results are based on 250 online interviews with respondents who travelled overnight in Canada for business at least twice in the past year, and who work for a company with a Canadian office and at least 100 employees worldwide. Results are accurate to +/- 6%, 19 times out of 20.

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