As hospitality professionals we all know what, or who, a typical traveler is. We are all too aware of the difference between a business traveler and a leisure traveler. Business Travelers are on business. They want low to no hassle, comfort and convenience, and will most likely spend a lot of time in their room working, or at the bar (working of course), and of course they will be up early, eat and then leave with little to no contact with the staff.
A leisure traveler however is different. They of course want some of the same, but they also want more. Dinner perhaps, or, extra room for the kids, budget but not basic, and of course they want trips, sightseeing and will eat and lounge and use facilities as much as they can, knowing they don’t have to clear up afterwards.
We (hoteliers) do, of course, cater to both these types and know them well, so know how to market to each type of traveler and how to encourage them to choose your hotel over others. However, there is a new type of traveler on the rise. Everyone, please welcome to the stage ‘the #bleisure traveler’ and all that they need and want. How do you market your hotel to this type of traveler? What do they need and want? Read on and I will do my absolute best to tell you exactly how to attract, retain and capitalise on this new age traveler.
What is a #bleisure traveler?
Of course the origins of the word are obvious to most, a business traveler and a leisure traveler combined. But how is this possible? Surely they are two separate entities. The thought of working and traveling at the same time seemed a little alien just a few short years ago. Now however, millenials are demanding new ways to work. Companies are having to offer all sorts of ‘extras’ to bring strong candidates in. Table tennis tables, free fruit, flexi-working, home office days and bean bags are but a few of the ‘usual’ things these days. The likes of Google made this kind of working environment possible and almost all others are now following suit.
Now more and more people are catching on to the idea that instead of spending 24 hours on a plane to go to the other side of the world only to be on the ground for 36 hours, seems to be a little bit of a waste of time. Enter bleisure travel. This could mean just one extra night or a couple of days extra to explore the local sights and make use of the travel time. Then pack up and go back to work and the usual routine. But ultimately what the bleisure traveler wants and needs is something that everyone is going to have to start accommodating, otherwise you will simply be left behind the rest.
What can you do to make them aware of you?
This is of course something that we have always had to think about. But now there are a lot more avenues open to you. When a business, especially a corporate one, is looking for potential places to send their employees, they are of course cost conscious. Very often they will have booking agents that they work with for example and generally speaking, once they have found a place, they will stick with it, at least until something goes wrong, which is why it is important to find ways to make sure you are the first they try.
Call local and international booking agents and get on board with them. Establish a working relationship with one of the reps. Invite them to come and stay free of charge in order to get them ‘hooked’ on what you can offer.
OTA’s are another way of marketing what you do. The information and the ‘look’ of your hotel or B&B are of utmost importance. You need to make your place look stylish, yet cosy and affordable. A home from home and good working space. List the benefits they will get from booking with you. Of course some OTA’s like bidroom.com can offer you a direct booking link free of charge as well as 0% commission, which will, of course, keep your costs down and your revenue up. Bidroom.com have also recently teamed up with Visa, which would indicate a sharp rise in #bleisure travelers coming from their direction.
As always, Social media is of vital importance. Encourage your bleisure guests and their companies to write reviews on places such as TripAdvisor and OTA pages. This can not only boost your bleisure exposure but of course your overall occupancy too.
What does a bleisure traveler want and need?
A bleisure traveler is as individual as any other, and have their own needs and wants, but there is a list of requirements that you absolutely must have in order to attract them to stay at your hotel. This list is something that you really need to start making sure you have available if you want to keep up with others and keep your occupancy levels where they should be.
As a new type of traveler, the bleisure traveler has some familiar needs and some essential ones. On the days they are there for business, they need to have access to a good WIFI connection. This is possibly the most essential of all. They need to have constant access in order to check emails, work remotely and stay in contact with the office and colleagues, wherever they might be. They are likely to have some video conferences, or at least some audio chats via their laptop or phone and so a constant and fast flowing connection is essential to them.
They also need space. Gone are the days where they need a trouser press in their room and newspapers in the morning with their eggs and bacon. This new breed of traveler is more likely to want a desk to work from in their room or a co-working space and avocado toast in the morning. They are looking for as little hassle as possible and no waiting around.
- Hassle free
- No waiting around
- Great WIFI connection
- Desk in their room / good comfortable co-working space
- Recommendations to local ‘cool’ places for them visit (with discount?)
- Sightseeing excursions, the more unusual the better
What should you offer them?
To keep them coming back to you, you need to really make sure you are catering to their needs. In order to this you need to start thinking differently. Times are changing and you need to do the same.
It is important that you make their trip and stay with you as effortless as possible, but also as fun and experiential as possible. Once business is finished and they are looking for more leisure oriented activities to do it is your job to supply them with options. For this you must start to think outside the box. They don’t want to look through a whole display of leaflets in your foyer offering them the usual (and boring) museum visits and tea rooms (yes we have all experienced the kind of hotel I am talking about, think, Fawlty Towers). Of course some of them may enjoy these attractions and they should still be offered, but instead get in contact with local attractions for the new generation. Sky diving, Go Ape, VR experiences, Cocktail bars and hidden gem restaurants and coffee houses or local treks.
Get in contact with the places you know are ‘cool’ or ‘trendy’ or ‘exciting’ and talk to them about obtaining special discounts you can offer your guests. All businesses want to incentivise more and more visitors so I think you will be surprised what you can achieve with a few phone calls. Make them into experience packages that you can offer them, taking them from the morning to the late evening with contacts, discounts, pre-ordered tables or even set menus specially crafted for your guests. These are the kind of above and beyond deals that will wow them into returning time after time. And don’t forget to ask them to write a review for you. Social media exposure and reviews are king of the hill these days and almost more important than the traditional word of mouth advertising.
Of course, don’t forget that they want space, a desk to work from, or even a co-work space in your hotel if you have the room, with free coffee for example and offers like smoothies, paninis and, of course, avocado toast. Also make sure that a good breakfast is included. They may have their trip funded by the company they work for, but the company still wants to keep the cost down as much as possible. Location is important, somewhere central with ease of access to everywhere else. If you don’t have that, then market your hotels location well. Highlight the things you have got close, exactly what public transport they can use to get to where they most likely want to be, or a discounted local taxi firm. And remember, WiFi WiFi WiFi!
So why are bleisure customers important to you?
This question should be self explanatory. In order to keep moving with the times and keep your P&L charts looking beautiful, you need to keep up with moving trends. Bleisure travelers are just part of this. You also have increasing amounts of digital nomads, changing trends in likes and dislikes and changing needs to be aware of.
The hotelier business has never been so exciting, full of potential and open to ‘different’ approaches. If you sit around and stay in the same place, you will get lost in the tidal wave of other hotels that are changing and adapting their strategies in order to stay ahead of the rest.
Bleisure travelers are not just a fad, they are here to stay. With a constantly rising amount of Start-ups and SMEs that also adopt this new, flexible way of working and incentives to bring the best employees their way, there is an increasing need for hotels with a difference. Not just your run of the mill hotels that we are all too familiar with.
Bleisure travelers will not only keep returning to the same place if it offers them all they need, but they will also be more inclined to post about their trip, tweet about it and tell all their family and friends about it. So the more exciting, comfortable and easy you make it for them, the more likely your hotel is to get an excellent reputation among the #bleisure community, which can only mean one thing for you. A constant and steady stream of income and security. Which let’s face it, is something that we all want and need.