Business travel has had a rough ride over the past few years. COVID-19 restrictions, economic uncertainty, and political conflict globally have made buyers and employers cautious about committing to travel on behalf of their employees. But the situation is improving, spending is tracking toward a full recovery next year (with North America performing better than other areas worldwide), and opportunities are on the horizon for vacation rental managers.
Thanks to the rise of remote working and blended travel, and significant growth in the popularity of vacation rentals, short-term rental properties have become a viable option for corporate travel accommodation. As lines between corporate housing and vacation rentals continue to blur and overlap, now is the time for property managers to capitalize on the opportunities available with this type of travel.
Why Should You Be Paying Attention to Corporate Travel?
A strategic move into this market opens up opportunities to increase ADR and occupancy, bolster business during the off-peak seasons, and secure lucrative repeat bookings from low-maintenance guests.
The need for convenience often means corporate travelers will look for different amenities—high-speed internet, a workspace, good security measures, and transport links—and are undeterred by higher rates from properties that offer them. Corporate bookings are often made and paid for through a centralized booking system or travel management company rather than the individual. Either way, the accommodation, transfers, and meals will likely all be expensed.
Business trips operate to a company calendar, uninfluenced by seasons, providing potential occupancy boosts for off-peak periods. What’s more, corporate travel frequently involves regular trips to the same destination, and travelers increasingly extend their business trips to include vacation time, with 41 percent of travel managers reporting an increase in employees asking for blended travel. Repeat business to secure steady revenue streams and reduce the frequency of turnover costs is on offer here.
How Can You Tap into the Market?
Now that the short-term rental product is more universally accepted among corporate travel buyers, there’s a fantastic opportunity for both industries to work and grow together. Here are my five key takeaways for vacation rental property managers interested in learning more:
- Both leisure and business bookings are driven by the same thing: the location of the property. Convenience tends to be the most crucial factor in choosing where to stay, which is why corporate travel trips tend to take place in urban areas busy with business activity. Research your local area. Does it attract corporate travelers to go to offices or big events? If so, this may be a no-brainer for you to explore. Don’t write this off if you’re in a holiday destination either—movie production companies, for example, drive a lot of business travel to less obvious places.
- Consider whether your portfolio already has the right amenities for corporate guests. Do your properties have good Wi-Fi, a space to work, remote access, digital communication options, access to good transport links, and sound security measures in place? If so, the foundations are already there to explore the business travel market. If not, consider how you might optimize your property for a corporate traveler.
- Understand what the corporate traveler needs from you and your property. The business traveler values efficiency, convenience, good communication, flexibility, and security. Be clear on how your portfolio can meet these needs. Understanding the guest profile and their needs equips vacation rental managers to capitalize on the market opportunity.
- Take note of a crucial difference between corporate and leisure travel. While vacation rental safety is essential for all guests, the most significant difference to corporate travel is the high emphasis on duty of care. This is the employer’s legal responsibility for the welfare of their employees wherever they are in the world, including your property.
- Talk to those in the know. Speak to corporate booking channels to discuss the onboarding process and their typical bookings in your area. The best corporate booking platforms will vet their suppliers to ensure that the owners and operators are trustworthy, the neighborhood is safe, and your business is not at risk of going under. Be prepared to share insight into these aspects of your business.
Carrie Hartman, CCHP, is the chief revenue officer for business travel accommodation platform 3Sixty, helping employees to book and manage their stay in over one million quality, cost-effective rooms and properties around the world.