Posts Tagged hospitality

Innovating for a New Breed of Business Travellers – Part 2

In our previous blog post, we looked at three ways companies are innovating to capture the hearts and budgets of a new generation of business travelers. This week, we’ll take a look at two more ways the industry is getting a refresh in the last part of our 2 part blog series.

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Image Credit: Hotel Chatter

Are you traveling for business or pleasure?

Well, why not make the best of both?

A business trip to Europe you say? Fantastic, let’s book some personal days to enjoy a Paris detour on the backend of that corporate trip.

You aren’t alone in combining some personal vacation with your business travel. In fact, 83% of travellers use time on business trips to explore the city they’re visiting, with nearly half adding personal travel days to their business trips, according to a report from Bridgestreet Global Hospitality. Great news for the travel industry!

Built with ‘Bleisure’ in mind

“Bleisure” is the growing global trend in the travel industry as the worlds of business traveling and leisure traveling blur.

How is the hospitality industry leveraging this trend?

Hyatt Centric has done a great job serving as a basecamp to their guests’ city excursions. They have defined a clear target audience: Wish-Listers, who want to experience a destination’s iconic activities. In response, Hyatt Centric lobbies feature areas defined as “The Corner” with books and magazines that provide insight into the local destination.

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Many hotels are also recognizing that guests enjoy travelling with their pets, to bring a piece of comfort and home on their trips. Enter programs like Kimpton Hotel’s Very Important Pets and W Hotels’ Pets Are Welcome (P.A.W), offering plush pet-bed loaners in your guest room, food, water bowls and mats, and a concierge list of nearby pet-friendly restaurants, parks, groomers and pet boutiques. The recently opened Virgin Hotels also has pet-friendly rooms, complete with a dog statue outside the door to watch over you.

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The Bleisure movement is also reshaping how we design communal spaces. Hotels are providing a new type of multifunctional space for teams to work, socialize, or just people watch. Virgin Hotels’ Commons Club is a dynamic hybrid of bar/lounge, laid-back study and restaurant with a private members club vibe, featuring a 24-hour library, social hour, and restaurant all in one.

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Image Credit: Breather

If you’re looking for a new type of meeting space outside of a hotel, Breather is an Airbnb-like app that lets you book a non-typical, home-like space to work, meet or relax by the hour, or for the day. It is available in New York, San Francisco, Boston, Ottawa, and Montreal, with more markets to come.

Convenience maximus pre and post trip

Business travel is taxing, so services that reduce travel stress are more than welcomed. Although hotels have made a good start to up their game to match guests’ demanding expectations for convenience, offering services such as mobile check ins and keyless doors on their trip, other companies outside the hotel industry are providing truly breakthrough solutions to proactively reduce travel frustrations pre and post-trip.

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DUFL Virtual closet is revolutionizing the way we prepare for travel by removing the pain of packing, checking in, and lugging around suitcases. For $9.99/month and $99 per round trip, you don’t have to pack anything at all. Your clothes will be shipped to your hotel, then cleaned and stored in DUFL’s virtual closet, ready to be used on your next trip.

The team at Antedote are also using apps to simplify our travel logistics. Egencia (the business arm of Expedia) is an online travel booking platform which can follow customized travel policies to manage travel costs, and has flexible options like day-of-arrival hotel cancellations. Expensify is an app for easy expenses, which lets you pull expense records directly from your credit card account, and photo log your receipts in real time, so you don’t end up with a huge stack of receipts in your wallet when you come back from your business trip.

The fact that a slew of new technology and service companies are popping up to cater to the needs of travelers that typical hospitality providers have not yet catered to before is a wake up call for the hospitality industry to take on a more future-focused and proactive approach to innovation. Rather than focusing on the typical touchpoints every hotel and travel brand is already thinking about, how can we leverage the larger cultural and macro trends at play, which are changing the role of travel in consumers’ lives, and identify new touchpoints to connect with consumers? Through pushing the boundaries of what the industry is ‘expected’ to provide, we can think of new ways to win consumers, fixing problems and creating delight where they didn’t realize they needed new solutions for.

Innovating for a New Breed of Business Travellers – Part 1

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Image Credit: Starlab Tumblr

[first of 2 part blog series]

Part of the perks and woes of my job as a consultant is the frequent travel. It’s the easiest conversation starter that sparks passionate debate with the people I meet. While it definitely helps rack up the loyalty points and has it’s adventurous allure, the reality is that constant travel is grueling, and has been lacking in freshness in recent years. The expectations of business travel have also evolved – with company travel bans and more frugal budgets, the days of decadent schmoozing trips are long gone. The new business traveller, especially millennials, have developed a new set of expectations, and the industry is finally starting to catch on.

Here’s the first of a two part series on the hospitality industry’s much needed innovation refresh.

Buzzworthy, budget-smart

The new business traveller still wants unique experiences that can make work trips more delightful and story-worthy, but they want smart finds that show they are sensitive about the way they spend the company’s money.

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Image Credit: Wired

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Image Credit: USA Today

Jetblue recently launched Jetblue mint, a premium coast-to-coast flight service that got tech execs all excited, even warranting a tweet from LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner. Boasting lie-flat beds with massage function, a small-plates menu created in partnership with new York restaurant Saxon + Parole, and a take home Birchbox amenity kit, the service is available on two routes: JFK to SFO, and JFK to LAX. Starting from $599, it is stunningly half the price of traditional first class tickets.

Non-traditional players like Airbnb are also targeting the business traveller with its corporate program, a great option for longer trips which give travellers a more home-like experience with kitchen and laundry facilities, which could help companies save in the long run.

New Millennial lifestyle brands

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Image Credit: Aloft Hotels

The big hotel brands are also taking notice of the shifting landscape, launching new lifestyle brands with the millennial traveler in mind, such as Hyatt Centric, AC Marriott, Aloft hotels, Radisson Red, and Canopy by Hilton – all of them aiming to become destination hubs for both locals and visitors, featuring convenient locations, bold, modern design and technology, cocktail culture and mingling spaces, with special attention on health and wellness. They are a welcome breath of fresh air for those looking for an alternative to the usual expensive, overly corporate and stuffy, dated options.

Co-creating with a tech-fluent generation

It’s accepted now that the modern traveller is tech-obsessed and always connected. What the travel industry is also recognizing is that this techy generation is opinionated, and not shy to share their ideas. Connected guests will not only know all about your brand but will have formed an opinion about your brand way before they even step foot in your door.

So rather than innovate for them, why not innovate with them? Especially with those who are your self-appointed brand ambassadors.

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Image Credit: Starlab Tumblr

Take Starwood for instance, who recently launched Starlabs (an innovation incubator space blending design, technology and luxury), where associates, owners, developers, customers and partners can converge and scope out the latest guest technology shaping the hotel of the future, such as keyless entry, BotIr robotic butlers, Oculus bikes, smart mirrors & vanities and more.

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Image Credit: Starlab Tumblr

Marriott Hotels also launched an online co-creation platform where anyone can submit new ideas, and fellow travellers can vote on which ones are most brilliant. The winning idea of 2014 is a bartenders in residence program, which is now being launched at select Marriott properties.

With the emergence of these new co-creating platforms, hotels are positioned to launch successful experiences that will resonate with their guests.

Stay tuned for the second part of the series to learn other ways that hotels have been innovating hospitality, through bleisure and convenience maximus.

Travel Innovation: Virtual Reality Takes Off

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An industry first, Qantas Airways together with Samsung recently introduced a 360 degree Virtual Reality experience for their travelers. Now on select flights, First Class travelers will be able to be transport to any virtual world (imagine immersing yourself in your favorite blockbuster movie or exploring tourist sites of your final destination before you even land) during their long 14 hour flight from Australia to Los Angeles.

At antedote, we thrive on tapping into the newest technology to uncover new insights and drive innovation for our clients. That is why we love watching how different sectors integrate emerging technology and are following the evolution of this exciting new medium as it moves from gaming to travel.

As virtual reality becomes even more refined and more realistic, researchers can also look forward to leveraging the technology to create immersive experiences for subjects in conceptual scenarios, without spending money or time creating physical prototypes.

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