Business travel is dead. Or—not?
Since the world pulled inward to combat COVID-19, the business travel industry has been declared dead and resurrected with every pandemic wave. What’s certain, however, is that the growing corporate housing industry, after weathering quick and unpredictable pivots, is starting to see broader change emerge.
The global COVID pandemic hasn’t killed or revived business travel, but it’s definitely changed what business travellers value—and how to approach making guests feel at home.
We’d like to share what we’ve learned about 2022 business travel: how it’s evolving, what’s changed, and what we’re seeing grow into the future.
Trend: 2022 business travel budgets are all about supply chain
The COVID-19 pandemic saw business travel all but shut down as borders closed, offices went remote, and conferences wheeled to a stop. We saw the majority of our 2020 and 2021 bookings come through B2C channels: health care workers staying closer to work, insurance housing, and medical stays for patients travelling to access treatment.
But as 2022 has opened, vaccines have rolled out, and restrictions have loosened in Ontario, we’ve seen employer-assisted travel make a comeback.
Companies are navigating an uncertain landscape as businesses update travel policies to reflect our new reality. Travel managers are reporting new challenges around fuel costs, environmental concerns, continuing supply chain backlogs, and how an evolving employment market has changed per diem expectations.
They’re also facing a changed continent-wide demand for furnished apartments, according to a Corporate Housing Providers’ Association report. Rising urban rents and disruptions in the furniture and housewares supply chains have made furnished housing more expensive.
As industries find the tempo of 2022 business travel, we’ve found they value providers that meet them halfway with stability, flexibility, and transparent options.
Trend: How business travellers use our space
COVID-era living has demanded a new flexibility from our everyday spaces—and that need has carried over to furnished rentals and corporate housing. When more time is spent inside the suite, our guests want to eat, sleep, work, and live comfortably, without feeling constrained.
We’ve noticed an understandable desire for larger spaces, as guests rethink their accommodations as multi-functional space. 2022 business travel is prioritizing spaces that adapt: where guests can move between functional “zones” throughout their day.
But we’ve also supported our guests in making their business travel accommodations do more. We’ve provided more permanent office furniture to enable remote work, helping set up temporary office nooks in spaces that, pre-pandemic, were geared toward off-work hours.
That desire for a fully-stocked temporary office space is a trend we see continuing, as remote work—full-time or sometimes—keeps its place in our lives.
Trend: A COVID plan that works
COVID-aware business travellers are prioritizing safety when they choose their accommodations—and a clear, transparent protocol is more important than ever.
DelSuites implemented a layered response to protect our guests and staff from COVID. We added new cleaning and safety protocols at all levels of interaction, shifted to lighter and no-touch operating models, and incorporated quality PPE into our procedures. All guests are issued standard COVID-19 questionnaires and informed of our protocols on booking.
We’ve seen travellers respond to not just the presence of our COVID plan, but its clear standards and layered components. Each business traveller’s experience of COVID-19 has been different, and a multifaceted plan lets us provide a good welcome to guests from all over the world.
Trend: A stay based on flexibility
After two years of uncertainty, good planning has shifted to mean flexibility. More than ever, business travelers are privileging the ability to flex, adjust, and accommodate their travel plans. At DelSuites, we’ve seen positive responses to all the flexibility we can build into our service offering.
More client-friendly terms and conditions, which allow guests to cancel on shorter notice, extend their stays, or modify their travel dates, have been met with enthusiasm as travel requirements change. Our ability to accommodate guests has been deeply appreciated when they’ve faced delayed or cancelled travel due to flight rescheduling or government COVID mandates.
Our guests have also appreciated flexibility in how we welcome them. The age-appropriate kids’ activities in our family welcome kit have made family travel easier in an era of changing travel requirements. Our pre-arrival grocery request service has also seen more use, as guests shift to using our fully equipped kitchens over local restaurants.
We’ve also found ways to “door drop” guest requests and service, such as grocery orders, cleaning supplies, linens service, and more. While the services we’ve traditionally offered—linens service, suite cleaning—are appreciated, our business travel guests have also reacted positively when we can modify them to keep everyone safe.
While the state of the COVID pandemic constantly evolves, and we won’t be living with extreme levels of COVID forever, we’ve learned important things from that desire for flexibility. Whatever conditions we’re facing, business travelers appreciate being heard and accommodated—and when their provider works with them to make a stay good.
Trend: Balancing technology and the human touch
The social distancing COVID-19 brought us has turbocharged the use of technology for established corporate housing providers. From sales to service delivery, we’ve taken many of the ways we do business digital: live bookings, 24/7 Guest Services availability.
With digital bookings soaring, we’ve upgraded our suite photos and virtual tours to help guests understand our suites from a distance.
We’ve also introduced digital solutions for guest support, with how-to videos for some of our suites’ unique features, such as wall beds and AEG microwaves.
While we can sometimes think tech solutions and personal connections rarely mix, industry experts are actively exploring how to connect with our guests in different ways. We believe the personal touch that real hospitality brings isn’t going away, but ubiquitous digital solutions will change how it’s delivered. Establishing the right balance for our guests—making the digital feel personal, with the right amount of human touch—is going to be a growing trend for successful corporate housing providers.
Our knowledge of corporate housing is always growing—and we’re always eager to share!
For more DelSuites insights into how business travel is evolving, join us at our blog or get in touch at 647-370-3504 or firstname.lastname@example.org.