Business Travel – Hotel Rooms Go Hi-Tech

The veteran road warrior must have been in this scenario at one point or another, but picture this anyway. You are in town for yet another meeting; it must be the nth time you have been here this year. Whenever you are in town, you stay in this particular hotel because you like it there. Because you are already a familiar face at the hotel and have booked your stay prior to arriving there, the hotel staff greet you very warmly and refer to you by your name. The bellhop escorts you to your room, and upon opening the door, you are automatically greeted by the room’s sound system with your favorite number from that old Randy Crawford album at just the right volume. Your eyes are sensitive to light, so you are surprised to find the lights of your room dimmed to the proper degree that will not hurt your eyes. The room is the exact temperature you would have it: cold, but not too cold. The mini-bar carries your favorite brand of soda and a stash of your favorite black chocolates.

You still have a few hours before you meet your colleagues for dinner, so you decide to rest and freshen up. The water in the shower is deliciously warm and the soaps, shampoos and toiletry are exactly the brands that you prefer using even at home. While you dress, you turn the TV on in the hopes that the hotel may have the channel that airs your favorite early evening comedy. Lo and behold! They have it, so you giggle at the characters’ antics while you prepare yourself for that dinner with the colleagues.

How did the hotel know all the preferences of their guest? It is simple: the room the guest stays in is “smart,” meaning it is wired with sensors that feed the hotel’s central computer inputs as to what temperature the guest set the air conditioner and the water heater, how dim the lights, the repertoire on the sound system, the channels watched, the food taken from the mini-bar, among other things. The central computer stores this data so upon the guest’s return, he or she will have a room that will be to his or her exact liking.

To quote this article from the International Herald Tribune:

“The backbones of these smart rooms are the data networks that hotels are installing to carry phone calls, video and Internet connections.

These networks, for example, make it possible for hotels to offer Internet TV services that store programs and let guests watch shows on demand. (A guest from Chicago, for example, could watch a Cubs baseball game in London as easily as in Tokyo.)

These networks also allow hotels to connect the lights, air-conditioners and other room devices to a central computer so they can be remotely monitored or controlled.”

Neat, isn’t it? The issue of the guests’ privacy was, of course, brought up, but hotels give their assurance that they only use the data they have gathered to serve their guests in a better manner.

SOURCE: Author’s blog: http://biz-trips.info/

Anna Lynn C. Sibal has worked with traveling business executives for the past seven years, providing them with close personal and administrative assistance. Along with her innate interest in travel, this experience has given her many insights on how traveling executives think and what they need.

Anne is a journalism graduate from the University of the Philippines, the leading state university of that country, as well as one of the premier academic institutions in Southeast Asia. Aside from travel, Anne also displays a keen interst in literature, the cinema and the Internet. She has written and contributed actively to various student publications and has managed an in-house publication for a real estate association in the Philippines. She has also won an award for her screenplay from the Film Development Foundation of the Philippines in 2001.

Local Store Marketing: The Business Traveler

Ah, the glamour of business travel. The security lines, the $8 airport beers, the ongoing game of “how much can I stuff in an overhead bin”, all for the privilege of boarding a bus with wings. Well, this week I passed a milepost of sorts: 1.5 million airline miles flown in my lifetime – the majority of these miles business-related. This week’s trip was no different, a two-day, one-night trip to Ohio to evaluate a retail location. I prefer quicker trips – 2 nights is generally my limit – so as a business traveler, I do not get too acclimated with the places I visit. It is a quick in-and-out type of business travel.

When I travel, getting a quick lay-of-the-land is critical in order to establish some sense of order while on the road. Every little helpful tip is appreciated and providing incentives or direction to the “local jewels” makes even business travel pleasant. Ironically and prior to my travel, I had targeted this week’s article to feature how store owners can capture the business traveler and when I checked into my hotel – viola! – a restaurant had done just that! The restaurant was in walking distance of the hotel and provided a perfect combination of proximity and incentive.

Here is how store owners can attract and maintain a consistent flow of business travelers to their stores:

Find The Sources: For store owners who target business travelers or provide products and services to the out-of-towner (such as food/drink), building strong relationships with local area hotels is an excellent way to continually feed your sales hopper. Hotel guests constantly ask hotel managers for their recommendations on restaurants, retail stores, gas stations and so on. Therefore, your store needs to be top-of-mind in order to be recommended by these hotel managers.

Create Incentives: Consider developing incentive programs for hotels that recommend your store by offering discounts to their hotel guests or giving the hotel incentive prizes. Develop a tracking device so that you can ensure that the recommendation was solely due to a specific hotel and their front desk.

Tap The Revolving Door: A hotel sales strategy can provide ongoing sales opportunities simply due to the ever-changing pool of hotel patrons. If a local hotel has 500 rooms, for instance, it is a reasonable bet that nearly half of those rooms will change over every day, providing your store with a constant new pool of prospects. Hotel sales, while they will not provide long-term customer retention (hotel visitors are from out-of-town), nonetheless provide incremental sales to your store and often repeat sales when hotel customers return to town.

Diversify Your Approach: While the above strategy focuses on hotels, you should consider other key businesses (i.e. car rental places, etc.) to obtain recommendations to your store. Think like a business traveler and gain access to all the business that they will touch on their trip. Identify businesses that provide the opportunity for delivery/pickup orders.

Make A Plan: Within your 3-mile trade area, contact every hotel and ask to speak to the hotel manager. Offer the hotel manager an opportunity to earn discount product vouchers based on how many hotel patrons they refer to your store. For every 10 customers from the hotel, provide the hotel manager with a voucher that their employees can use to receive discounts at your store.

The business traveler is often overlooked with a store marketing strategy but executed correctly, can provide an unfettered stream of new business into your location. Being creative sometimes only means being “johnny-on-the-spot” for the oft-frazzled business traveler.