Your calendar is already booked up for high season and your weekends are mostly filled, but what about those empty weekdays? How can you fill in those spaces between weekend stays to increase your occupancy rate and maximize your rental income?
The remedy for this problem might be business travelers.
While leisure travel still represents the majority of trips in the U.S. hand over fist, people took 485.9 million business trips last year – and these work-over-play individuals are increasingly choosing vacation rentals over hotels. Professionals are discovering the many benefits of staying in a private residence when they’re away on business and choosing their accommodations accordingly.
Targeting business travelers is a lucrative way to fill in those gaps on your calendar, but if you haven’t carefully considered this demographic’s needs, your home may not be an automatic hit with the business travel crowd.
Business travelers look for different things than your average guest. Sprawling views aren’t as important as proximity to airports. En-suites are preferable to shared bathrooms. Free private parking is a more coveted amenity than beach access.
Let’s go over some suggestions that you can use to make your vacation home friendly to business travelers.
Highlight your proximity to airports, convention centers, and office parks
Your vacation rental is going to be an easy choice for business travelers if it’s convenient to the places they need to visit during their stay. To reel them in, be sure to mention the proximity to airports, convention centers, and office buildings in your listing so they can clearly see that your place is competitive with hotels in the area.
Create private sleeping spaces
If you want to attract groups of business travelers, you need to create multiple sleeping spaces where colleagues can comfortably spread out.
A room with bunk beds is fine for families, but it isn’t going to cut it for coworkers sharing a home. Vacation rentals with multiple master suites and private bathrooms are going to be more attractive to this demographic because let’s face it – it might be somewhat uncomfortable to share a bathroom (or a bunk bed) with your boss.
Match hotel comfort
Why do most people look forward to staying in nice hotels? It means a bed full of plush pillows, stark white sheets, and luxuriously heavy comforters that make it easy to get some shut-eye at the end of a long day.
You can bring some of those comforts to your vacation rental by replacing old, mismatched bed linens and blankets with commercial-grade sheets and blankets. Alanna Shroeder of The Distinguished Guest has some great ideas for selecting linens that leave guests feeling like they’re staying in a 5-star hotel.
Other touches that will make your vacation home feel even more welcoming to business travelers are:
- A flat-screen TV in every bedroom
- An alarm clock and docking system for easy phone charging
- Eye masks and earplugs
- Power strips for plugging in multiple devices
- Slippers and bathrobes
Improve your response rate
When business travelers are booking accommodations, they need instant responses. A busy professional can’t wait around for several hours to find out if a rental is available to solidify a reservation. They need to know immediately so they can move on with their days and arrange the rest of their travel plans.
Most homeowners manage to respond within a matter of hours, and that’s perfectly reasonable, but it might not win over the business crowd. If you’re serious about targeting this group of travelers, you might want to offer instant booking or having a person dedicated to answering your guest inquiries if you can’t do it yourself.
Offer flexible check-in
Business travelers arrive at all times of the day – after business hours, during the middle of the day before an important meeting, and sometimes in the wee hours of the morning. If you want to cater to this type of traveler, strict check-in policies won’t work.
You’ll likely need to make special arrangements with your cleaning company to accommodate fast turns and invest in a system to allow check-ins outside of regular business hours.
Lockboxes are good, keyless entry systems are even better. Your guests will be able to get into your home and freshen up no matter what time they arrive.
Provide hotel-level hospitality
Forget asking your guests to start the dishwasher or strip the beds after a stay. Business travelers are usually on strict schedules that prohibit them from spending a lot of time on the check-out process. Not to mention that they have an expectation for the kind of experience they’ll have when traveling on business – and that’s akin to what you’d encounter in a hotel:
- Freshly folded towels
- A full set of toiletries
- Daily cleaning service (for an additional charge)
- Bottled water
- Free coffee and tea
- Continental breakfast items
You might even want to put together a basket with all the items they can usually get by calling down to the front desk if they forget – toothpaste, spare toothbrushes, razors, etc. If you can go above and beyond what hotels provide, you’ll be even more appealing to this type of traveler.
Keep in mind that more often than not, business travelers visit the same city multiple times. By going the extra mile, you’ll increase your chances of earning loyal guests who want to stay at your property every time they’re in the area.
Offer Free High-Speed Wireless Internet
Wifi is a must, especially in today’s fast-paced business world. Employees are expected to be available no matter where they are! You’ll be doing your guests a favor by investing in a high-speed wireless internet plan and making it as easy as possible to get connected.
Think of a simple password (not a long string of characters that’s nearly impossible to get right on the first try) and post it in a highly visible location. You might want to put the login in a highly trafficked area where guests are likely to see it as soon as they enter your home, such as the entryway or the kitchen. If you have a welcome book – and we highly suggest that you do – you can put the password on the front page so it’s easily accessible.
Provide recommendations for restaurants in the area
There’s nothing worse than arriving in a new city, hungry after a long flight, and getting into a rental car to drive around aimlessly in search of a good place to grab a bite to eat. When you’re desperate for sustenance in an unfamiliar area, it’s easy to default to fast food, and that’s not the high-quality experience you want to provide.
To replace the concierge services that business travelers are used to, you’ll need to provide your guests with a number of convenient recommendations.
Let them know where they can take clients out for a meal or drink at a nice restaurant. Tell them about some options for grab-and-go food they can pick up before a meeting, or late-night if they get held up during a conference. Leave directions for nearby supermarkets so they can stock up for their stay, or offer to provide a delivery service for an additional fee.
You’ll be doing them a huge service by making these suggestions in advance so they can show up and focus on work, rather than worrying about where to eat.
Invest in your kitchen equipment
One of the most enticing perks of staying in a vacation rental over a hotel is that guests have access to a kitchen. To help them get the most out of this amenity, stock it with high-end equipment that will help them fuel up during their stay.
- Keurig coffee makers
- Electric kettles
- Espresso machines
- Vitamix blenders
These are special touches that business travelers will really appreciate on a work trip. It saves them a visit to the Starbucks drive-through on the way to their daily meetings and makes it easy to enjoy healthy meals on the road.
Set up collaborative workspaces
It seems counterintuitive that traditional hotels are the go-to for business travel when they often lack areas where guests can actually work. Aside from a bar or lobby, most hotels don’t have a dedicated space where colleagues can meet and plan presentations or collaborate on projects.
The mix of communal workspace (dining rooms, living rooms, studies) and private areas (bedrooms and bathrooms) is part of what makes vacation rentals so appealing. You can offer the best of both worlds!
Set up space in your home where guests can comfortably work. Private offices, cozy nooks with desk space, and large dining rooms all fit the bill as long as they have comfortable chairs, lamps for good lighting, and a surface area with plenty of room to spread out laptops and paperwork. Once you set up a work area, take some great pictures and include them in your listing so prospective guests can see the fantastic amenity you offer!
Guests Love White Glove Service
These suggestions certainly make your vacation home appealing to business travelers, but they’re sound ideas to attract guests in general.
Who doesn’t love cloud-like pillows, luxe lavender mini soaps, and chef-quality kitchen gadgets while they’re on vacation?
Those little touches can make a good vacation great, and they’ll definitely make your home stand out as a top choice in the area.
Giving all of your guests this kind of white glove service is key to earning the rave reviews that push your home to the top of booking sites, and filling up your calendar all year, every year.
It does, however, require that you invest more in your amenities and the services you provide. You’ll need trusted partners who understand what a vacation rental cleaning entails, and can deliver service efficiently. You’ll need guest contacts who are ready and willing to provide amazing customer service, and a management service that makes sure you are getting in front of the right guests and collecting a competitive income.
That’s why more owners are turning to services like Evolve as they look to take their vacation rental businesses to the next level.
Evolve makes it easy to give guests the white-glove service. Click here to learn more about Evolve’s services and everything we offer for a low 10% booking fee.