Hotels pushing the envelope to appeal to business travelers

Friday, June 14, 2013

Hotels pushing the envelope to appeal to business travelers

Alternatives to corporate suites at chain hotels, such as serviced apartments and furnished extended stay units, are becoming extremely popular with business travelers. Many professionals are choosing these types of accommodations over typical hotels due to rising costs and the growing number of ancillary fees being levied on guests. To compensate, and to try and lure executives back to luxury hotels, many service providers in the hospitality industry in Asia and Russia are turning to technology and high-end amenities, reports ZDNet.

High price, high tech
Some hotels are branching out into the tech space to provide their guests with an enhanced experience. For example, some chains are launching their own apps to enable guests to check in using an online system that incorporates SMS text messaging functionality, something that many analysts have noted is mostly absent from the corporate hospitality industry. However, some properties are pushing these boundaries even further. One Asian hotel has introduced an app that creates a unique piece of artwork based on customers' sleep patterns, while others have launched IP telephony services in guest rooms to facilitate VoIP business calls.

Of course, meetings represent a valuable sector for service providers in the corporate hospitality industry, and one chain in China has opened what it claims is the first telepresence conference suite of any hotel in the world to appeal to corporate guests. Whether the feature will convince travel managers to pay higher rates remains to be seen, but there is little doubt that chain properties are competing fiercely for corporate travelers' business.

Major growth in emerging markets
As hotels in North America are scaling back amenities such as room service in an effort to reduce costs, properties in Russia are taking the opposite approach. According to Forbes, the Russian luxury hotel market has experienced dramatic growth, fueled by the country's highly focused concentration of affluent individuals in cities like Moscow. The news source reports that Russia leads the world in luxury hotels, and that demand for rooms at these high-end establishments is intensifying.

Russia's luxury hotel sector has grown by more than 12 percent year-on-year, despite the country's relative lack of available room inventory compared to its size. Russia has just 550 hotels, 145 of which are located in Moscow. It seems that, for now, Russia's hospitality market is focused on catering to the needs of wealthier individuals, while American properties remain concerned with appealing to business travelers who are keen to reduce expenditure.