Last December the Ladders published that discusses business travelers who extend travel beyond the timeline of the business trip. The article says, “[a]ccording to a new study by La Quinta by Wyndham, nearly two-thirds (64%) of business travelers who have extended a trip have done so secretly.” Think about this for a minute. They did it in SECRET. 22% of them did not even tell their partner! They literally want to be alone.
Then, there are the other 78% who extended without wanting to be alone. Almost everyone I know has extended a business trip at least once in their career. Some of us have done it multiple times. When we were designing the airport experience we chose San Juan as a test site. Almost everyone on the team extended their stay for a weekend.
What does this mean to the travel and hospitality eco system? It means there is a missed opportunity to extend the value proposition and get closer to the coveted lifestyle brand status.
What can we do to help extend travel and increase value?
As members of the travel and hospitality industry and customer experience professionals, we can do a lot. Both airlines and hotels can include offers in booking confirmation emails about choosing an extended stay with them. The timing of that offer is crucial.
Seldom do people change their minds after they have left for the trip. So, we all need to get ahead of our customers and plant that tempting idea of staying longer in their minds when they are at still at home, planning their work trip, dreading the time away from family.
And, if we know they have a kids, even better! Just think about the mindset shift. A parent looking at a week away from the family, dreading the time working at an exciting site without having the chance to even see the place. And then an offer shows up. What if he/she could bring the family for a long weekend at his/her destination? And if the destination is far, that could be their family vacation and they could stay for an extra week. Or, if there is an amusement park or Disney, they can have a short but VERY eventful weekend. Suddenly the business traveler’s frame of mind has moved from dread to excitement.
And your marketing enabled that shift. What it also enabled is ancillary sales for you and your partners as this solo business trip became a leisure vacation for a family of 4. If they have a dog, you can tag all the dog products on top as well. No pun intended.
The Extended Travel Solo Experience
On the other hand, if the business traveler really wants to be alone, we can make a dedicated page for the business/leisure customer with different products, services and information about things to do in the area for a weekend. Think through the needs of a business traveler extending to leisure on his/her own at the spur of the moment, and without family members.
They probably have not packed any of the things they need during a leisure trip: sunscreen, bathing suit, shorts, etc. All of these products can be sold, delivered, rented. They also might be interested in some socializing in the evening, so adding some social networks onto the page might be just what they need.
Don’t forget the sports activities, including local gyms. Most business travelers are really worried about the lower quality food they consume on the road and try to maintain their workout routines to offset the guilt.
The End to End journey
Today’s travel competitive game is for the end to end experience. It is important to note here that, if you want to expand your value proposition for the business traveler, you need to invest in the seams of your extended experience offering.
We still need to be intuitive about the need for car service/taxis. We also need to build partnerships with adjacent businesses in order to offer entertainment at the tip of the finger. Keep in mind, a business traveler is still insanely busy. So booking that additional stay needs to be a click or two away.
Those Universal tickets for his family need to come with a pre-planned routine in order for him to take advantage. Remember, the moment you demand effort, extra work, or research from him/her, they will give up and just go home. So, it is crucial that you think about the whole journey and try to make the decision points as intuitive as possible for the additional revenue to flow to you.
Good luck expanding your horizon and your travelers’ options!
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