How to simplify business travel for your guests 

With the rise of conference-calls and video-conferencing systems like Skype and Google Hangouts, it may seem like the days of face-to-face meetings are numbered. But a lot of business leaders and industrial psychologists reckon that there’s no substitute for meeting someone in person, especially at critical junctures in a business relationship, like introducing yourself or closing a deal. So how can hotels make business travel less stressful and worth your while? Dawn Weir, head of kulula work, suggests the following:

Identify the business benefits for your guests:

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Weir says that business travel can be beneficial for the individual traveller and their business. British Airways On Business for example, enables your enterprise to earn points when you travel on BA, Iberia and American Airlines, and you’re entitled to members-only offers and discounts. BA Executive Club enables you to graduate to higher tiers where you can, for example, get cabin upgrades and access to business lounges and use the points to, say, take your family on holiday with you. Hotels can advertise these types of benefits to their business customers and even form an alliance with the airline to do advertising for them on their planes.

Assist them to be travel ready:

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In the current busy, always-connected corporate lifestyle, your guests can never be too prepared to travel at a moment’s notice. Weir admits to being a super organised individual and has a travel drawer with her travel necessities, ready to pack at a moment’s notice. This drawer includes luggage labels, extra ID and passport photos, toothbrush cover, toiletry bag with miniatures (shampoo, hand sanitizer and moisturiser), travel brush, neck cushion and eye masks. But not all your guests will be this organised. Offer a travel kit at an additional (not too expensive) cost. Things like ID copies and passport photos are not in your control, but you can add some toiletries and essentials to the kit.

Suggest apps to simplify their arrangements

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A few apps that you can advise your business travellers to use, include:

  • Scannable: This app enables the camera on your smartphone to record documents at a quality similar to those that have been scanned or photocopied. Take a picture of that all-important, game-changing, freshly-signed contract and the app straightens and neatens it up so you can email it. It’s quick and discreet and it’s also a way to keep track of your expenses. Take a shot of your receipts and mail them to your accounts department.
  • There’s no shortage of online project-management tools, but Trello has earned the loyalty of its 10m users through canny use of colour-codes, to-do lists and timelines.
  • AroundMe uses your mobile device’s GPS to find facilities like banks, ATMs, parking-garages, eateries and medical facilities, while Wi-fi Finder does the same, but for wi-fi hotspots.

Create a break room for your guests:

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Airport lounges provide a haven from the hubbub of departure-lounges, but not all are equal by any means. The best ones have space for some work, high speed wi-fi, a good selection of food, a decent wine-list, and facilities to shower and freshen up. The SLOW Lounges at a number of South African airports have these facilities, and there’s even one at the Radisson Blu Hotel opposite the Sandton Gautrain station (SLOW in the City), which provides boardrooms, lounges and the option to arrange for private areas to do business lunches and interviews, with the benefit of waiters on call for food and drink orders. A new lounge recently opened at Lanseria International Airport called SLOW XS and has, among its many attractions, wine-tastings offered by local drinks specialists, Winesense, and is exclusive to FNB/RMB cardholders and kulula passengers. When your hotel’s business rooms is booked, some of your guests might need a quick freshen up, and this is the perfect opportunity to incorporate the said “SLOW Lounges” at your hotel.

Lastly, remind your guests to hydrate and rest when flying:

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Weir says many business travellers tend to put in more working hours when away from the office and home and they might be so busy and tired that they forget to stay hydrated. A simple bottle of water can be given to your guests upon arrival and departure with a designed label to remind your guests to drink enough water and to get some rest during their travels. A nice personal touch can be to wish them safe travels on the label as well.

Edited by: Alicia Redelinghuys

 

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Hotel Verde

South Africa has many impressive hotels and among them is Hotel Verde. The hotel is situated in Cape Town near the airport and it is South Africa’s greenest Hotel. Hotel Verde has won many prestigious awards and is an inspiration to other South African businesses to go green. Travelling Mystery Guest did a short interview with them to share their story with the hospitality industry.

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“Verde” means green in Italian. Is this where the name, Hotel Verde, originated from? 

It is Mario Delicio, along with his wife Annamarie, who are the owners and directors of Hotel Verde. They are originally from Italy, so this is where the Italian influence comes from, particularly in our restaurant, called Nuovo. It was the Delicio’s daughter, Anika, who came up with the name, Hotel Verde, to pay homage to the family’s Italian heritage and the hotel’s sustainability concepts.

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Hotel Verde opened its doors in 2013 and you have already won a few awards. Was it difficult at the beginning to convince consumers to be more eco-friendly? 

Hotel Verde Cape Town has been designed green – we hold a double LEED platinum certification by the United States Green Building Council, which looks at both design and construction, as well as daily operation and maintenance. A guest’s carbon footprint is reduced simply by staying at our hotel, so it hasn’t been difficult to encourage guests to be Eco-friendly. In most cases the choice to stay with us is already a sustainable decision. If they wish, guests can make their stay even more sustainable by using our energy-generating gym equipment, opting to take the stairs over the elevator, or reusing their bath towels. We also have a guest incentive program that rewards guests for going the extra mile in this way. By making Eco-friendly choices during their stay, guests can earn Verdinos and each Verdino is equivalent to R5, which can be redeemed against purchases at the hotel during their stay.

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Being quite the trendsetter in South-Africa, are you planning to expand? 

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Our parent company, Verde Hotels, offers sustainable hospitality solutions with a turnkey approach. They currently operate within Africa and are developing a resort in Zanzibar, which will open in late 2017. This will be the second hotel under the Verde Hotels brand.

 

 

Was it expensive to start the hotel? Considering all the special equipment that you use?

The green budget of nearly 11% makes it possible that today, Hotel Verde Cape Town can operate the hotel at only 35% of water usage and a 35 % of power usage of a conventional hotel of the same size. It is therefore the best investment in the long term.

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Are you continuously adding new ways to preserve the earth? 

As technology progresses, new and more efficient practices are made possible. We are always on the lookout for improvements at Hotel Verde and continually strive to regularly review daily operations in an effort to go greener. An example would be our approach to the current water crisis in the Cape – we have created additional signage to encourage guests to save water and only refill conferencing water bottles on request, among other implementations. For our brand, the newest example would also be the new Hotel Verde Zanzibar, which in some areas have equipment even more efficient than what was purchased 5 years ago for Hotel Verde Cape Town.

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Who / what was the main inspiration for the start of Verde hotels? 

The Delicio family believes that we all have a responsibility to the planet and should live sustainably; it was this thinking that inspired them to conceptualize not only a hotel, but Africa’s greenest hotel. Each member of the family has had a hand in making Hotel Verde the way we know it today and our staff ensure that our values and sustainable practices work towards staying Africa’s greenest.

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Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

A special thank you to Taryn Hickson, Marketing and Brand Manager at Hotel Verde, who agreed to the interview.

Travel Trends for 2017

I love watching things change in the travel and hospitality industries. Never a dull moment. Whether it is decor trends that change, or the plating of food, every year has some new, evolving trends that either shock us or surprise us. Wall colours, ways of travel, types of accommodation preferences, types of travellers and their expectations…here is what is being predicted for 2017:

Travel experiences

Travel experiences (Image cred: pixabay.com)

  1. EXPERIENCE. More and more travel experts say that travellers want experiences with some kind of purpose, especially when it comes to wellness and cultural education. Travellers want to have digital detox options and they want to experience different indigenous cultures. When I say experience, I mean travellers really want to experience certain things like working on farms, taking lessons from local artists and trying out local cuisines.
  2. CONSERVATION. Another trend that is growing quite quickly, is the trend of travelling with the purpose of conservation. Conservation of not only the planet, but also cultures, wildlife and more.
  3. MORE DESTINATIONS IN ONE TRIP. Travellers don’t go to one destination and stay there for two weeks anymore. Instead, they make the most of their time away from home and fit in as many destinations and experiences as possible. In South Africa, this is a huge trend as travellers want to see, for example, Cape Town and the Kruger National Park all in one trip.
  4. EXPERIENCE DRIVEN TOURS. Tour operators say that travel to Africa is booming. Travellers now want the true African Safari experience and less luxurious spa experiences. Things like walking safaris, canoe trails and fly camping should do the trick. Experience driven tours that encourage travellers to move at a slower pace while on holiday are a must in your planning for 2017 if you want to “wow” your customers.
  5. COMBINATION TRIPS. “High-low” safaris are also becoming very trendy in the travel industry, where travellers rough it with walking trails or canoeing and then end off their trip with a few days at a luxury lodge. Combination trips are definitely something to look into. Gosh PR also mentioned this at the THINC Africa Conference, hosted by HVS earlier this year, where they explained that UK travellers want something from both worlds in one trip. With South Africa having so many stunning beaches, we need to tap into this travel market, providing tours that combine safaris and beach holidays to travellers from around the world.
  6. LIVING ROOM-LIKE SPACES. With regards to decor, hotels have living room-like spaces to look forward to – moving away from the traditional front desk.
  7. CULTURE INSPIRED DESIGNS. Culture-centered designs where there is not much difference visible from the indoor spaces to the outdoor spaces is not necessarily a new trend, but it has increased in popularity.
  8. BOHEMIAN FOR BUDGET. Bohemian simplicity has become a popular design trend to follow, especially for budget hotels, with high-touch furnishings, but simple, environmental finishes.

References:

http://www.greenspot.travel

http://www.hotelnewsnow.com

http://www.travelweekly.com

http://www.goshpr.co.uk

The changing business traveller

Business travellers are no longer just suits carrying briefcases.

E.S. Brits, 2016 – Bloggers, networking events, conferences and face-to-face meetings are the driving forces propelling business travel into a new era.  Recent surveys have found that Millennials are twice as likely to plan and undertake business trips when compared to Baby Boomers. New apps are introduced daily, catering to the unique needs of the corporate traveller, and travel programs now offer everything from expediting the boarding process to assisting travellers in avoiding flight delays.  As travel requirements change and new rules and legislation is implemented, the travel industry should also adapt and grow to account for the increased demand for specific business travel trends and needs.

Technology enables us to be in constant contact with our friends, and family. Between Skype and Google hangouts employees, colleagues and business partners can connect even when they are continents apart. But still, the good old-fashioned face-to-face meeting remains hard to substitute. The face-to-face meeting is however busy changing.

Changing business traveller

Changing business traveller (Image from: Skift.com)

For hotels, guesthouses and other travel destinations, business travellers are a very appealing market. If they want to successfully reach this lucrative market they have to stay ahead of the trends. The new business traveller’s needs have evolved; they are now looking for a temporary home-away-from-home paired with a fast, efficient and seamless experience that will enable them to work on-the-go. This new trend goes hand in hand with the following needs:

  1. Business travellers want a seamless experience through apps

In order to attract the growing market of corporate travellers, accommodation establishments need to make use of multi-screen bookings, allowing travellers to adapt their plans in an instant – to change bookings, book in or out, or even cancel bookings. Even better if the app can also link the traveller to local restaurants and coffee shops, transport, weather forecasts, and for the bleisure travellers, a sight or two to visit while on their trip.

  1. Enable the business traveller to maintain their workflow

When travelling for business, efficiency is key. Companies expect their employees to work, even if it is from a hotel room. Therefore, hotels and other accommodation establishments should offer Wi-fi and charging stations in the room and printing and other business facilities on-site – preferably open after hours. No matter who the traveller, Wi-fi remains an expense that most travellers would want to avoid, giving travel destinations who offer it free of charge a definite competitive advantage.

  1. Consistency

Corporate travellers often prefer to book with accommodation chains and hotel groups with a known brand. Surveys have found that business travellers rated hotel chains as a safer bet when travelling to different countries or locations. But that does not mean that independent hotels should be dismayed. They can compete in this market by making sure their marketing advertises exactly what the traveller can look forward to, and then deliver on that promise. Show off the amenities that will really matter to this group of travellers, e.g. your big rooms equipped with a work desk, displaying the free Wi-fi sign. But make sure all the rooms look like that picture. Remember, consistency builds trust and not delivering what you promised breaks that trust.

  1. Location, location, location

Business travellers prefer to book their accommodation close to key locations, where there are reliable transport and dining facilities in close proximity. Pair this with stable connectivity and facilities that will ensure a workday without frustration and there you have it! Advertise accordingly, emphasising safety, comfort and productivity.

  1. Loyalty and rewards programs

Incentives can be a successful motivator to ensure repeat business and return guests. For a corporation making a booking for their employees’ business trip, incentives that have proven to be effective include a reduced corporate rate for small businesses, loyalty packages for large businesses, and special business services that will ensure continuous workflow.

  1. Keeping everything in one location

Conference facilities, space to have face-to-face meetings, work space for group sessions and breakout rooms are indispensable for any business traveller. Having these facilities in the same location is ideal.

  1. Going cashless

Exact record-keeping is one of the headaches of travelling on the company’s dime. Going digital makes the whole process easier, allowing travellers to pay directly from their mobile devices while saving an exact record of the expense.

  1. Shorter lines and no waiting times

The old saying, “time is money”, rings very true for corporate travellers, who require fast and seamless check-in and check-out experiences. They will look for destinations that go digital, allowing guests to check in and out on their mobile devices and apps, as well as key-less entry to their rooms.

  1. Different is sometimes better

Some business travellers consider the somewhat unconventional accommodation options when going on a corporate trip – anything from bed and breakfasts, self-catering apartments, cabins, lodges and even tree houses! Although the demand for traditional hotel rooms is still high, this growing trend indicates that business travellers are willing to be adventurous and to think out of the box. That means you should too. Accommodation establishments should highlight what makes them unique. Never be afraid to show what else, over and above the business centre and workspace, you offer.

  1. Healthy travellers

The global health trend has extended to the business travel market. Hotels and other accommodation establishments, airports and other business facilities have started to offer new services that focus on the well-being of the traveller. These services include relaxation areas, exercise classes, and juice bars.

Business travel is an ever growing market, and if tapped into successfully, can be very rewarding.

Bleisure – Combining Business with Leisure

Frequent business travellers will generally all agree that the average business trip is no fun. Business travel has little, if anything, in common with the typical holiday and, more often than not, business trips leave the traveller feeling exhausted and stressed out. Most corporate folk who regularly travel for work end up not even using all of their vacation days. There is, however, a solution to this predicament: Bleisure travel.

Bleisure Travel

Bleisure Travel (Image from: healthytravelblog.com)

This buzzword was created from the words “business” and “leisure” and refers to a business traveller who fits in some leisure time during a business trip. This is hardly a new thing, but it has only recently become newsworthy. In fact, for long there has been a segment of business travellers who have had the monetary means, as well as the professional flexibility, to include a few extra leisure days in their scheduled business trips. According to Visa’s 2015 Global Travel Intentions Study, 16% of travellers combined leisure with business on their most recent trip. Whether this is a current trend or whether it has been taking place for quite some time, it definitely highlights the integration of people’s professional and personal lives in the modern world.

Still, why mix business with leisure?

Bleisure travellers believe that planning leisure around business is a very effective way to go about it when it comes to time and money spent on tickets, visas and other travel expenses. Taking a short holiday before the business trip commences helps employees to acclimatize before entering a foreign work environment, plus it gives them a unique understanding of the city and culture in which their business meetings will take place. Most bosses understand, and even appreciate, this sort of time and resource optimisation. Some employers even believe that the additional travel time motivates their employees to perform better; especially when it goes hand in hand with a “digital detox” (a day or two with no access or connectivity to any electronic communication devices). These few extra days, taken at the employee’s expense, can be used to recharge and come back re-energized – ready to tackle the next business project or deal. Bleisure travellers tend to be more content and everybody knows a happy employee is more productive. Bleisure travel, therefore, not only increases job satisfaction, but it also nurtures loyalty towards the company.

Why should the travel, tourism and hospitality sector care? Because bleisure travellers tend to spend more money per trip than their strictly-business counterparts. Since the company normally covers the travel costs, travellers now have more spending money for their trip and they generally strive to make the visit worth their while. This provides a very interesting opportunity for hotels, guesthouses and even self-catering destinations to retain travellers once they have completed the business segment of their trip. Travellers could be motivated to prolong their stay through post-stay leisure packages or exclusive discounts for people coming to a specific conference. The aim is to encourage them to linger a little longer. Perhaps they could even fly their families or partners in and turn the primarily business trip into a well-deserved family holiday or romantic breakaway.

A captive audience is an opportunity not to be missed, which is why the travel, tourism and hospitality sector should tap into this fast growing bleisure travel market.

Customer Expectations

I’ve been trying to come up with a few things that I, as a regular customer at guesthouses, hotels and restaurants, expect. Here are a few:

Customer Expectations

Customer Expectations (Images from Pinterest.com)

– I expect to feel welcome

– A smile always goes a long way

– I want to experience as much as possible while visiting

– I want to feel special and appreciate any extra effort made to make me feel at home

– I want the service to be exceptional, timely, positive, precise and innovative

– Consistency is always a good thing

 

These are only a few customer expectations. What do you expect from a hotel?

Hospitality Trends for 2015:

Marketing Trends
– Personalised web experiences. Hotels are starting to use customer information found online to target customers based on their preferences and online behaviour.
– Mobile keeps growing.
– Mobile payments for mobile hotel bookings.
– Taking ownership of your brand’s voice on all the different channels, including social media, TripAdvisor, etc.
– Paying in order for content to be seen on social media platforms.
– Becoming more customer-centric (human-to-human) and tailoring products and services around customer personas, expectations and experiences.
– Growth in visual storytelling, allowing hotels and restaurants to develop a vibrant and engaged community.
– Content that creates excitement and stirs emotions.
– Targeting Baby Boomers, currently the wealthiest generation, as part of the marketing strategy.

 
Food Trends
Apparently there is a restless palate syndrome going around, especially among the millennials. Think bold, crazy flavours and you’ll be trending!
– Oysters
– Root vegetables, i.e. celery root, parsnips and kohlrabi

Kohlrabi (Image from: The Kitchn)

Kohlrabi (Image from: The Kitchn)

– Seaweed is now being used as packaged snacks, in seafood sauces and poaching broths and not only in sushi anymore.
– Sweet-spicy sauces, condiments, jams and jellies like piquant honey, jalapeno honey, ginger-citrus honey and more.
– Vegetable yoghurts. Haagen-Dazs in Japan even has two vegetable flavoured ice-creams!
– Hummus has “out-trended” salsas.
– Bacon is not a trend anymore. Rather think guanciale, pancetta, fried pork ears, pork cheeks and ‘ndjua, a spreadable, bold flavoured sausage from Calabria.
– Cocktails with beer, shareable punches and herbal liqueurs.

 
Consumer Trends
Customers in 2015…
– Share selfies and photos of experiences.
– Prefer smaller and more flexible dining portions.
– Are always connected
– Are opinionated and share it with their friends
– Consider trust as convenience
– Are value conscious
– Require immediacy
– Ignore advertisements
– Seek authenticity
– Follow rituals

 
Thanks to our sources:
AdWeek.com
Net Affinity
4Hotelliers.com
Lolsmg.com