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Business Travel Won’t Rebound Until 2024 – Here’s How to Get Ahead of the Competition

Business Travel Won’t Rebound Until 2024

Plan for the business travel boom and bolster your company’s bottom line.

Two years into a pandemic, no doubt the U.S. workforce is Zoomed out. But there is a shred of hope for those grounded road warriors.

Recent industry reports show business travel is predicted to increase by 37 percent this year. It’s still predicted the industry won’t fully recover for another two years. That means there’s a timeline to set a strategy and curb the competition.

GEM Journal’s president Roberta Nedry is a guest experience consultant and self-proclaimed “road warrior” herself. As someone who frequently traveled prior to the global health crisis, Nedry brings a unique take on her experience in business travel.

She’s chronicled how lucrative the business sector of travel is, and opined the best and worst practices.

“Business travelers have the power to choose where to stay, who to take them there and what services they will need while they travel,” Nedry says. “They have corporate dollars in their pockets and expense accounts to support their choices, if made wisely.”

The missing link: Guest loyalty

Experts predict businesses will contribute more than $1 trillion to the travel and hospitality industry this year. That’s not even back to pre-covid levels.

Travel adds an extra layer of unpredictability and stress typical 9 to 5 workers don’t face. Frequent road warrior travels appreciate and demand attention to detail.

But customer service teams have been known to drop the ball when assisting this valuable group of the workforce.

Throughout her travels, Nedry built up a “tremendous amount of business to various airlines and hotels.” When it came time to cash in her hard-earned miles, her loyalty wasn’t reciprocated.

I know the hospitality industry, and most industries for that matter, value loyal customers, especially those who have accumulated lots of points and miles – proof of my business choices and revenue contributions.

“I expected they would recognize my patronage, appreciate my business and jump through hoops to please me,” Nedry said. “I was wrong.”

She was passed from one customer service agent to another until finally a supervisor met the expectations of customer loyalty and guest experience.

“I was given the runaround, greeted with impatience, presented with all the restrictions and left hanging without the arrangements I desired,” Nedry said. “To get where I wanted to go, I would have to work hard, talk to several people, ask lots of questions and basically convince these reservation agents to pay attention to me.”

Here’s the thing: business travelers are already working, why should they need to work harder? All customers are valued but let’s acknowledge the amount of money this group contributes to the market.

Prepping for the business travel boom

Through the runaround at each touchpoint inflames the situation further. Luckily, there was one supervisor to douse the fire. You can just prevent the fire from starting.

Nedry’s particular guest experience problem came from training.

The lower-level employees in the first touchpoints of each business weren’t empowered to make better experience decisions. Her calls went up the ladder to properly answer her requests. As she compares it to a ball being bounced from one team member on the court to another.

“If a customer has been bounced, train employees to recognize “the bounce” and address it immediately,” Nedry says. “No matter where the request, call or visit is made, an employee should be able to recognize a frustrated guest, reduce their anxiety through confidant reassurance and take proactive steps to answer the request, even if it means calling the guest back with the right answer.”

How do we do this?

Simple communication ques can ease guests’ anxiety, letting them know their loyalty will be acknowledged: “Thank you for choosing us” is a good start to building a relationship.

Bouncing them from one department translates to a lack of confidence with more than one employee – the whole company.

It’s like a reliable and trustworthy friend. That’s how you build customer loyalty. Or you may foul out on the court.

“Bouncing guests around may result in bouncing dollars elsewhere,” Nedry says. “Take the proactive steps to ensure each touch point scores the loyal relationships that pay.”