small business meeting space in office or hotel as travel changing with shorter booking window

Business travel in the U.S. might not be rebounding at the pace the industry had hoped for, but it is coming back, and with some noticeable changes.

Shifting trends in business travel include a shorter hotel booking window, more solo trips and, in some cases, a younger demographic, said Kate Burda, hospitality revenue management expert and chief executive officer and founder of consultancy Kate Burda & Co.

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“Where before business travelers may have had a small team or support staff, now they are solo and support teams are back in the office or in home offices,” she said. “Remote travelers are such a growing population of the traveling community, and the nomadic traveler has trended younger.”

Burda added that older, more established executives are also traveling.

“Within traditional business travel, it is less about age and more about whether their position or work is customer-facing, support or project-based,” she said.

As business travel begins to re-emerge, employees must still continue to prove their travel is necessary, said AngeLis Davidson, senior director of corporate sales for the Americas at Radisson Hotel Group. Common justifications include customer engagement for revenue generating sales, launches and operational needs.

“Travelers typically must follow a conservative approach to return to travel with a focus on controlling expenses. Many travelers are asked to book through their agencies or dedicated channels to secure the best pricing from their preferred suppliers,” she said.

“They are eager to get back on the road and have been given flexibility to travel based on their comfort level,” she added.

Duty of care remains a top priority, and travelers want assurance the hotel they are booking is clean and that they will be safe, Davidson said. Travelers want easy access to COVID-related information, including hotel policies regarding cleaning protocols and housekeeping services. As an example, some travelers do not want anyone in their rooms while some travelers want cleaning service during their stays.

Radisson has given its hotels the flexibility to choose their cleaning policy through the end of the year. Guestrooms are cleaned and disinfected prior to arrival. Guestroom door hangers, stating Radisson safety protocols and housekeeping procedures, are available for hotels to use at the general manager’s discretion.

Loyalty status recognition is also important for business travelers in particular, Davidson said. Radisson introduced its enhanced Radisson Rewards Americas loyalty program to provide further recognition and more benefits for guests.

The core business travel that continued through the pandemic included sectors of healthcare, air crews and cargo, shipping, rail, retail, merchandising and temporary housing. Many business travelers are frontline employees traveling to work on a job site.

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