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New trends in business travel

By Kris Patel, Special to Business in Savannah
December 14, 2015

As the economy has recovered from the financial collapse in 2008 and slipped back into calmer seas over the last few years, the hospitality industry has begun to experience a steady uptick in business travel with numbers nearing a return to when company travel was at an all-time high before the recession.

According to the Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) Business Travel Index, global business travel spending has increased 38 percent since the end of 2009. The GBTA’s outlook forecasts an additional 11 percent increase in business travel over a two-year span between 2015 and 2016.

In addition, the overall 2016 outlook anticipates a surge in economic activity and confidence, with travel spending projected to increase slightly over 5 percent to $318.9 billion.

The economy, of course, is a major driver in all travel spending. However, if business travel continues at its current pace and companies feel more at ease with picking up the tab for the added expense of bringing people together to close deals and to attend professional learning opportunities and off-site company meetings, hotels, airlines and tourism destinations alike must be ready.

For hotel brands that hope to compete in this global, ever-competitive market, it means providing access to a number of things. Companies are looking for meeting spaces that inspire. Four walls and a projector screen won’t cut it for today’s business meetings and conferences.

To set the stage for a great meeting, the space should be able to handle multiple configurations for seating, should have access to natural and adjustable lighting, should have a broadband Wi-Fi network, should have hands-on staff to assist with detailed planning and support during meeting and should have a catering team to set the tone for a successful event.

Companies are also looking at destinations for business meetings that offer business travelers a taste of the culture with a range of exciting activities and places to explore during their personal time. As a local hospitality brand, HOS Management is lucky to have beautiful, historic Savannah in our backyard. The tourism industry here has certainly brought the hotel sector to new heights.

With many families still cost-conscious when it comes to their extracurricular spending, it is also becoming more common for business travelers to bring their spouse or family and book an extra day or two to convert the trip into a leisure one.

This is also known as the “Bleisure” trend.

BridgeStreet survey says 54 percent of business travelers are bringing the family and involving leisure time. At HOS, we are finding business travelers feel it’s really all about doing more with less.

It’s our job is to help bridge the two together — business and leisure — so both agendas can be met. This is an opportunity for hotels to innovate and design their offerings to help make the business traveler feel the trip has been a productive one, while also creating an enjoyable experience for the spouse or family.

This is also an opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves.

We’re excited to see what’s on the horizon for the travel industry. For now, the future’s looking bright, but as always, the economy will prove to be the deciding factor.