The business travel dream is flying first class, staying in 5-star accommodation, and enjoying 5-star dining with colleagues or clients, whilst building meaningful relationships that result in an abundance of future business.
The business travel reality is spending hours at the airport waiting for the next available flight after yours was cancelled, sustained by greasy takeaway and bad coffee since they won’t let you into the lounge as you don’t have the right Frequent Flyer card. You finally get on the plane, but are crammed into the last available seat next to a man who could snore for the Australian Olympics.
The business travel dream is often incongruent to the reality of business travel. This is where your short-stay property can earn stellar brownie points by impressing the socks off weary business travellers. Here’s how:
Whatever the process for letting your short-stay property, keep it simple! First and foremost, engaging an experienced property manager is one of the best investments you can make, as they have tried-and-tested systems to ensure the check-in and check-out processes are as quick and seamless as possible. The last thing an exhausted business guest wants when they arrive at their accommodation is a hassle checking in e.g. being given incorrect instructions for collecting a key, etc. The quicker they can get into their accommodation and relax, the better life will be for everyone.
Time is precious for business travellers. They often work long days and have short windows of time at the beginning and end of their days. Business guests will become frustrated if they can’t find what they need to make these transitions quickly e.g. a hairdryer or ironing board because it has been stored somewhere obscure. Ensure essential items are stored in obvious places in your apartment e.g. hairdryer in the bathroom, iron with the ironing board, corkscrew in the kitchen or bar area, etc. Also have a process where these items are checked regularly to ensure they are clean and in good working order.
A clean apartment is one of the most important requirements for guests, and is always a focus on accommodation reviews. No one wants to find evidence of the previous guest, such as hair in the plughole! However, cleanliness is easily overlooked, especially when cleaning companies rush to turn over rooms before the next guest arrives. Seek recommendations from your property manager and pick your cleaning company carefully – it’s an essential investment. Cleanliness is the difference between a positive or negative review from your guest.
Put yourself in the position of your guest and think of the things that would make their life easier and more convenient. Quality appliances such as a coffee machine or hair straightener (in addition to a hair dryer) mean guests can prepare a delicious coffee before they dash out the door, and don’t have to pack as much when they travel. Luxury toiletries, fluffy robes, slippers, and even comfy pillows are small details that accumulate to enhance your business guests’ stay, and encourage them back. Think outside the box and select high-quality toiletries and refreshments, such as local wine, beer, tea, coffee, chocolates and other treats that guests will remember. Using products from local businesses ensures your apartment has a point of difference, whilst supporting the local economy.
If something goes wrong or there is a problem, guests will be reassured to know help is only a phone call away. Create a guest-care plan with your property manager of how and who guests can contact during their stay, and leave clear instructions in your apartment or with guests when they check in. There might be a landline number for guests to call during office hours, and a mobile number for after-hours contact. Establish this in advance and create a clear process guests can easily follow to ensure their issue is resolved quickly. It is also helpful to have a “preferred” list of reliable tradespeople, such as plumbers and electricians you can contact in an emergency. Your property manager will be able to suggest and recommend tradespeople they have used before too.
Business people often frequent the same city multiple times, especially in Canberra where they may be working with a government department on a specific project. This is a fantastic opportunity for investors to capture repeat custom from business travellers. However, to get a guest to stay with you again, you need to:
Convenience, cleanliness and added perks will impress your guest and probably prompt a positive review, but nothing beats an incentive to get guests back again. Whilst a discount is always attractive, there are other creative (and cost effective) ways to entice your guests to book again. Offering discounts over a quieter season will not always work for business guests, as their travel times are often dictated by their company and work schedule. However, a discount could be effective in luring a business guest back for a personal mini-break with their partner or family.
Complimentary gifts, such as bottles of wine, and food hampers, or discounted dinner vouchers could be attractive incentives for business guests. Many hotels offer complimentary or discounted meals to attract guests, but this is trickier for short-stay apartments. Work with local businesses such as restaurants and cafes to create a unique offer for your guests. For example, complimentary morning coffee from the café downstairs is not a big investment on your part, but a great way for your guest to start their day. Work with your property manager to create a unique incentive offer that works for your property.
Jim Rohn once said, “To be successful, you don't have to do extraordinary things. Just do ordinary things extraordinarily well.” Actioning the above strategies (even just a couple) really well and consistently will set your property apart from the rest, resulting in solid relationships with business travellers (as well as the businesses they work for) and prosperous ongoing business.