Business Travel On The Rise With Focus On Personal Value

Results from the fourth annual Embassy Suites Business Travel Survey show that while the recovering economy is still holding down the number of business trips taken, those who do travel are mixing business with pleasure more often than not. The report also highlights a keen interest in value – perhaps a lesson learned from tough times in the recent past.

“This year’s survey shows us that while people are traveling more for business; those guests want to get more – literally – out of every trip,” said John Lee, vice president, brand marketing for Embassy Suites Hotels in a release.

Noting the value of “face time” with customers, business travelers surveyed reported cutbacks on travel due to the economy down ten percent less than last year. Rather than skipping travel to meet customers face to face, some business travelers are cutting back on other travel expenses like meals and incidentals. The survey indicates that overall, business travelers are looking for better value in the hotels they use.

“Despite all the great technological advances, there is still no substitute for meeting someone in person,” says Cynthia Good, CEO & founding editor of Little PINK Book, a leading digital platform for businesswomen.

Going a step further on maximizing value, business travelers are getting more into bleisure travel by extending their business stay for personal travel time. Of those surveyed, 61 percent reported an average of three additional days added on to business trips for personal reasons.The logic is sound too as the company is already paying transportation costs to and from the destination. If business takes travel to a desirable destination, why not stay a while and enjoy some quality vacation time? Why not have a family member join them for the “leisure” time after the “business” time is complete?

Where do business travelers most likely extend their trips? The top cities to turn a business trip into a bleisure trip are San Diego (60 percent), Seattle (39 percent) and Denver (36 percent).

Across the pond, bleisure travel is a popular option in the UK with the Sunday Times summing it up nicely and calling it “a blending of business and leisure – which is the ideal compromise between the conflicting demands of a busy career and a balanced homelife.”

[Flickr image via stanrandom]

Five real reasons behind business traveler hotel choices

It’s not just flights – business travelers are easing up on cost when it comes to hotels, too. Rather than try to stretch their dollars until they squeal, road warriors are finally looking for ways they can be a little happier when sleeping in beds that aren’t their own (unless, of course, they’re sharing a bed with … well, you know).

Hotels tend to love business travelers, because they have cash to spend and tend to use it for more than just the room-night. Restaurants, bars and other services – these guys know how to open their wallets!

So, how do they choose? The latest Orbitz for Business / Business Traveler Magazine Quarterly Trend Report offers the five priorities that business travelers want when they decide to offer up their credit card information. While some are mundane, others will shock you:1. Give us a reason to be loyal: business travelers are whores for points, and that means loyalty programs top the list. Rather than save the company some cash, they want to make sure they won’t have to shell out to take the wife, girlfriend or mistress out of town for a few days.

2. Close to work: business travelers are interest in proximity to the reason they’re staying in a hotel. Speaking from experience, nobody wants to wake up in a hotel and then drive half an hour to visit a client. It blows.

3. All in one place: on-site amenities make life easier. That includes wifi, on-site cleaners and an exercise center. Nobody’s going to be happy wandering around town to find this stuff.

4. Size does matter: size of the bill, that is. For business travelers, hotel room rates still make a difference. Cheaper tends to be better.

5. The need to see stars: this one actually surprised me. Business travelers care about a hotel’s star rating. I never looked at it from that perspective but was always interest in choosing a place that didn’t feel third-world (having made a few bad choices along the way).

The least important factor? Well, that’s whether a particular hotel is on a company’s preferred supplier list. And, only a handful said that user reviews were “extremely valuable in their selection process.” As expected, sharing a room is almost totally out of the question.

Holiday Inn Express revamp includes pancake machines

Move over, Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity. There’s a new hotcake in town. InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), parent company of the Holiday Inn family of brands, have unveiled pancakes as the secret weapon for the newly revamped Holiday Inn Express hotels.

All of the business traveler-oriented Express properties will introduce a 24-hour market center with grab-and-go options, and an industry-first: a pancake machine, by March 31, 2011. Thirty test hotels already offer the machine, which uses commercial bags of pre-made mix (just add water!). Dollops of batter drop onto a Teflon-coated cooking belt, yielding a perfectly cooked, great-tasting product, every time. The machines produce one pancake every 18 seconds, ensuring even the hungriest executives will get their fill.

IHG is nearing completion on its three-year Holiday Inn brand relaunch campaign. One of the biggest changes has been the implementation of the “social hub” concept, which, according to, takes “what has traditionally been separate parts of the lobby–the bar, the food and beverage area, [and] the lounge area–and bring[s] them together in one space.” The thinking is that such enforced coziness will provide an “environment to relax, eat, have fun, work, spend time with family, friends or colleagues,” says Verchele Wiggins, VP of global brand management for Holiday Inn.

[Photo credit: Flickr user d.loop]