Business Travel's Great Comeback

“When is business travel coming back?” is one of the top questions on the minds of many city-based hotel general managers I have spoken to in the last few months. Unlike many resort destinations enjoying an unprecedented volume of business seven days a week, urban-center hotels are anxious to see the return of the road warriors to eliminate the peaks and valleys so many are experiencing.

A survey by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (March 2022) found that 77% of business travelers agree that getting back on the road is essential. Similarly, 80% of employed workers agreed that face-to-face meetings are critical for their company’s success. Two years with limited in-person meetings have impacted productivity, collaboration, and relationships.

Kalibri Lab has recently revised its forecast; it projects that business travel (BT) will reach 80% of 2019 results by the third quarter of 2022, which corresponds to the traditional busy fall season for individual corporate travelers visiting their field offices and clients. This is great news for hotels.

With this improvement on the horizon, is your hotel ready to maximize the return of the businessperson?

Here are some ideas to ensure your hotel is prepared:

  1. Review your staffing model for the BT team. How many salespeople do you need to cover the market adequately based on the volume? What should the support team look like? Consider designating someone in reservations as the BT expert who can provide that extra level of service to the travel manager or executive assistant.
  2. Revisit the hotel’s BT value proposition, such as benefits that make your hotel the road warriors’ hotel of choice. Don’t forget to include the sales team in this review. What are they saying or offering during their discussions? Have new competitors entered the market to challenge that unique offering, or does it need updating to remain relevant?
  3. Re-establish relationships with the hotel’s top BT accounts. Many hotel contacts have changed roles or left their position, and new relationships need to be developed. Allow the time and budget to rekindle these alliances.
  4. Identify the C-suite of the hotel’s key accounts, especially the CEO, who ultimately controls the travel decisions. These are the people the hotel GM should invite in for breakfast or lunch.
  5. Develop a list of backyard accounts that may have been forgotten about during the busy times of pre-2020. These may be smaller volume but often yield higher rates and help diversify the BT account base.
  6. Business travelers are forecast to bring their spouse along after the pandemic lockdown, so be sure to develop bleisure packages. Build a promotions campaign with social media and email communications to deliver the messaging.
  7. Operationally, ensure your team is ready to deliver efficient yet friendly service. The business traveler is often less forgiving when breakfast is delivered late or the Wi-Fi is spotty.

The great reset has begun, and urban centers are finally starting to experience improvement in performance. Don’t be left in the dust—be more prepared than your competitors to earn more business by winning the hearts of the business traveler.


"In-person meetings provide a sense of intimacy, connection, and empathy that is difficult to replicate via video." – Paul Axtell, corporate trainer and author of the book Meetings Matter.

"If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it’s lethal." – Paulo Coelho

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About Jo-Anne Hill

Jo-Anne is an industry expert who founded JH Hospitality Consulting to help hotels around the world dramatically improve revenue and profitability in creative ways. Her strategic thinking, skill, and practical approach to problem-solving come from hands-on experience at companies such as The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, the Mandarin-Oriental Hotel Group, the Dorchester Collection, and Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts.

Jo-Anne’s recently published book ‘Cultivating Leadership: How great leaders make a difference, one hotel at a time” dives deeper into the equation: happy staff = happy guests = more revenue.

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