Adapting to Consumer Demands: The Hotel Reservation Perspective

John Pelant, VP IT, CWT Americas

Technology is constantly changing our environment and changing consumer expectations, increasing the demand for personalized offers that ultimately make life easier. This rapidly changing environment challenges businesses to stay relevant, especially in terms of delivering services to customers, now possible not only in person, over the phone and online, but also through mobile apps. Companies that deeply understand the needs of their fast-to-market customers will continue to win in today’s sophisticated consumer environment.

Like many service companies, Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) – a leader specializing in the management of business travel, meetings and events – is trying to figure out how to develop the best and most advanced technology to put in the hands of the traveller, who now expect to have access to information at their fingertips.

According to a 2014 study by CWT’s Travel Management Institute, more than 60% of business travelers have a smartphone. It’s no surprise, then, that travelers have turned to their mobile devices and social media to research and book their travel, from flights to hotel rooms. And, just like most leisure travelers, business travelers expect to be constantly connected to personalized data and information that will make life easier on the road.

These trends have rapidly changed traveler expectations and are of particular interest to CWT and the travel industry as a whole. As a frequent business traveler myself and as a developer of our digital and mobile technologies, the intersection of service and technology is particularly important. Mobile technology allows service companies to deploy support through multiple channels – in person, by phone, web and mobile – which is of the utmost importance for travelers who live in a world where it is imperative to have information at your fingertips.

Business travelers rely on hotel ratings and reviews

Business travelers are savvy and want to know that their essential needs will be taken care of while they’re on the road, so they invest in understanding the options hotels have to offer before traveling. make a reservation. There are many popular social media platforms and guest review sites that allow travelers to rate their hotel experiences, allowing travelers to select the most suitable hotel for their trip.

The problem for business travelers is that most of these peer review sites are aimed at leisure travelers, who have very different needs than those traveling for work. Business travelers appreciate the location, connectivity, and all-inclusive amenities like free breakfast, coffeemaker, and ironing board. While vacationers are generally more price sensitive, look for locations near vacation attractions and extras like fitness centers and restaurants that make their stays more comfortable.

Because business travelers value different amenities, many hotels that cater to business travelers don’t have the kind of solid traveler reviews that leisure-focused properties do. That’s why CWT launched CWT Hotel Intel, a review site for business travelers to share their ratings and reviews with colleagues on hotels that meet their company’s travel management policy.

However, regardless of the hotel travelers wish to stay in, it is important that travelers book hotel rooms within the framework of their company’s travel policy. This ensures that the company pays the best available rate and allows travel managers to access all travel details for security purposes.

Mobile hotel booking abounds

Mobile devices give travelers endless options to book hotel rooms with the tap of a finger. The latest study from CWT’s Travel Management Institute found that the number of hotels booked via mobile device will double by 2017. Does the traveler ensure they book the most appropriate hotel for their trip, in accordance with their company’s travel policy?

Booking hotels outside of the managed travel program may result in risk to the traveler and additional expense to the company. When a hotel is booked outside of the program, data regarding the stay cannot be entered by the company or its travel management partner. This can lead to a problem in terms of data collection to enable better negotiations with suppliers and if the traveler encounters any disruption during their trip – severe weather, transport disruption, geopolitical event – and needs assistance.

This highlights the importance of booking all aspects of travel in one place, which is also linked to your company’s travel policy. According to the CWT Travel Management Institute study, 80% of travelers want a single “powerful travel app” on their mobile device that they can use for all travel-related needs. CWT is committed to growing this powerful app, creating a single point of contact for travelers through a mobile experience that supports all stages of the travel continuum – pre-travel, during travel, and post-travel.

“Mobile devices give travelers endless options to book hotel rooms at the touch of a finger”

Our award-winning CWT to Go app enables a truly holistic business travel experience. We just rolled out an in-app hotel booking feature that allows travelers to book a hotel directly from their mobile device. The company’s preferred properties and rates are highlighted, and travelers’ loyalty numbers are automatically populated into the reservation. Peer review functionality will be integrated in the near future, as will flight booking and car rental capabilities. Creating a travel program access point ensures that travelers are supported end-to-end throughout their trip and that companies are able to optimize their business travel programs.

Today’s digital, highly personalized and connected environment has created an opportunity for service companies to differentiate themselves with technology that fully supports the unique needs of their customers. Looking to the future, whether it’s better tracking of travelers, big data analytics, or building robust mobile and digital experiences, it’s imperative that the travel industry s is committed to providing a consumer experience that not only makes life easier for business travelers, but also for their employers.

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