Hotels: How to 'Woo' Business Travelers Through Social Media.
By Melanie Nayer ~ Exclusive Column
Wednesday, 30th November 2011
With business travel on the rise, especially throughout China and the US, how can hotels ensure they maintain prime business travel accounts? The bottom line is simply courtesy and where, when and how that courtesy is displayed can make all the difference.

According to a survey from Vitesse Worldwide, more than 3,000 of its business travel clients in more than 600 cities around the world said respect from hotels is what matters if hotels want to retain their business.

Business executives told Vitesse rude hotel staff rank among the top frustrations of travelers, and 74% of business travelers said impersonal treatment by hotel staff is one of the top things they hate about travel.

"What comes through loud and clear is that an executive traveler isn't asking for high-priced services as much as high touch," says Shawn Abaspour, CEO of Vitesse Worldwide. "This alone can turn the hassle of business travel into a pleasant, safe and productive experience. Although they know we can't turn back the clock to a simpler time, we know we can replicate it."

Among the worst experiences on the road, business travelers say "herd-like, impersonal treatment by travel and lodging staff" as their biggest frustration. "Executives are not made to feel as individuals but as names and numbers in a database," the survey revealed. On the flip side, business travelers say the hotel concierge is among a hotel's best assets.

"A concierge service armed with the knowledge of their personal preferences from type of vehicle to class of room" is often what will keep business travelers coming back to a hotel for future business, according to the survey.

What's all this mean for hotels as it relates to social media? While the business travelers aren't the ones most likely to have a huge twitter following, it's likely their businesses do. The efforts of social media have been so hugely focused on the individual, who's paying attention to the businesses?

Hotels are keenly aware of who their business clients are - how often they visit, how much they spend and their average length of stay are just the basics. Learn a little more about your business traveler to make their stay a bit more personal.

For example, during a recent visit to the Ritz-Carlton Beijing, my favorite holiday movie was left in the room for me (wrapped up in a bow), next to a bowl of popcorn with a note that simply said "Take the night off."

By following me on Twitter, Ritz-Carlton was able to identify my favorite movie and create a more personal experience during my stay in Beijing. While the movie and popcorn have nothing to do with my business travel, it was the added personal touch that left a lasting memory.

While the above example is isolated, the overall survey from Vitesse says a lot. Business travelers hate impersonal treatment, but value a knowledgeable concierge.

With hotels like Ritz-Carlton, InterContinental, Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental consistently on Twitter, the hotel concierge is front-and-center to the guests, even via the internet. Let your concierge take the Twitter helm once in a while, and allow them the chance to connect with travelers -- both leisure and business -- on a more personal level so they can help arrange a more distinctive stay that drives return business.

Melanie Nayer is a hotel reviewer and expert on luxury travel around the world. She has covered all aspects of hotels including corporate restructures, re-branding initiatives, historical aspects and the best of the best in luxury hotels around the world.

Melanie writes a weekly exclusive column for 4Hoteliers.com
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