The Trillion Dollar Experience Hole In The Travel Industry

Andrew Davis

There is a giant hole in the travel industry.

Every year companies spend over a trillion dollars on business trips, (according to the Global Business Travel Association.) A trillion dollars! That’s a massive market, yet no travel brand (that I’m aware of) caters specifically to the frequent business traveler.

Hotels and airlines have loyalty clubs, but none of them separate leisure travelers’ experiences from business travelers’ experiences. None of these companies offer a particular experience designed for us: the frequent business traveler (bTravelers).

There are plenty of travel brands that target their marketing to the frequent business traveler. Companies like Holiday Inn Express advertise their properties as a “smart place” for the bTraveler to stay. Here’s the rub: These companies do not deliver a distinct experience for a leisure traveler versus a business traveler. Both travelers stay in the same rooms, have the same checkout times, get the same size desks, and deal with the same WiFi speed.

Funny enough, delivering a differentiated experience for the frequent bTraveler isn’t hard. In fact, it’s all about the little things that make a big difference.

The little things

I just purchased two nine-foot-long smartphone charging cables. I like to keep my phone charging on my bedside table. (I assume a lot of business travelers do.) After all, my iPhone is also my alarm clock. In too many hotels, I end up unplugging lamps to use an outlet close to the bed. I’m not suggesting that hotels should put outlets at every bedside table (although more and more hotels are doing this). I am suggesting that hotels help business travelers with simple things, like access to enough power.

Instead of installing more outlets, why not give every business traveler a power strip with multiple outlets? A power strip isn’t an infrastructure improvement. It’s a small thing that makes a huge difference.

Let’s imagine a perfect hotel experience for the bTraveler.

  • What if every hotel reserved a select set of rooms for the frequent business traveler? What if these rooms had oversized desks? Not desks shoved in a corner staring at a wall, but a desk with a view. A desk with enough room to work. What if?
  • What if the very same hotel offered business travelers a separate WiFi for work? Reliable WiFi designed to do heavy lifting at high speed.
  • What if the very same hotel stopped by your room in the early evening to grab tomorrow’s outfit? They’d give it a quick press and bring it right back so you’re ready to go in the morning.
  • What if they know you like to eat dinner at 7:30 in the evening and the in-room dining team automatically brings your soup and salad at dinner time?
  • What if the lighting in your room was less relaxing and helped you be you more productive? I constantly find myself moving lights to create a comfortable work environment. What if?
  • What if they automatically extended checkout times to two hours before your flight departs or you return your rental car?
  • What if the front desk staff offered you a quiet, private place to work before your room is ready?

These don’t seem like unreasonable requests, but these little things would make a huge difference in my bTravel experience.

The trillion dollar upside

In the last 12 months, I’ve stayed at about 50 different hotels around the world. Some were great. Others were so terrible I couldn’t even stay the night. I’m not picky about what hotel chain I choose. Yet. The first travel brand to differentiate their experience specifically for the business traveler will get my loyal business. I’d even pay more every stay for an experience that makes my travel more enjoyable. Would you?

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Andrew Davis

About Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis’ 20-year career has taken him from local television to The Today Show. He’s worked for The Muppets in New York, written for Charles Kuralt and marketed for tiny start-ups as well as Fortune 500 brands. In 2001, Andrew Davis co-founded Tippingpoint Labs, where he changed the way publishers think and how brands market their products. His most recent book, Town INC hit shelves in September of 2015.