How COVID Made Hotels Rethink Business Travel

COVID has disrupted business travel, and with it one of the mainstays of hotels: corporate negotiated rates.

And as Hotel News Now reported Thursday (April 14), that shift has left hotel sales and marketing staff working harder to accommodate corporate clients.

“Early on, there was very little business travel and we consolidated our transient global sales and our property sellers that were dedicated to this segment,” said Dan Surette, chief sales officer at Omni Hotels & Resorts. “We kept a handful of seasoned sellers that could support the hotels and the customers as we headed into the next [request for proposal] season; we have slowly grown that team as business travel has started to return.”

Omni has also offered more leisure rates so that its clients could offer their workers a chance to enjoy “bleisure” (business and leisure) opportunities.

Read more: From Cruise Lines to Airlines to Tan Lines, the Travel Recovery Is On

“Our stance was that we wanted to reestablish as many relationships and agreements that we could, knowing that some markets would come back slower than others,” Surette said. “We also took the opposite approach, where we extended more rate flexibility, as well as individual traveler status with our Select Guest program for an additional year.”

Meanwhile, the Radison chain offers its corporate clients a faster way to earn benefits in its loyalty program, Ross Hosking, vice president, sales and distribution, told HNN. After a single stay, employees of corporate clients can be upgraded to silver status in the program and receive additional benefits.

“This is especially important, as pre-COVID road warriors head back to the road and sky and are looking to be quickly rewarded as they return to our hotels as our best customers,” he said.

Meanwhile, non-business travel could be set for a comeback, according to a number of recent indicators logged by PYMNTS.

For example, Carnival Cruise Line marked the “busiest booking week in the company’s history,” in late March/early April, seeing a double-digit increase from the previous record 7-day booking total.

And the latest Mastercard SpendingPulse™ showed airline spending rising 44.8% in year over year in March, along with significant growth in restaurants and lodging expenditures.



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