Dear Yanni...I'm always running out of time. Help!By Yanni Poulakos
In this week's column, Yanni tackles saving time while on the road and what new upgrades to look for when booking hotels
When I’m always on the road, it can feel like time gets away from me. How can I avoid that horrible “I’m running behind!” feeling and make sure that I’m using my time efficiently while traveling for work? Any time saving tips or tricks?
- Time Saving in Tahoe
Business Travelers are often consistently on-the-go, running after flights, running out to meetings with clients, but also running out of time in their days. This means that saving time where travel is concerned is critical.
For all things flights-related, every business traveler needs to do themselves a favor and use a flights app- FlightStats and FlightAware – Great options. It’s nutty that folks will stalk their rideshare drivers as they make an illogical u-turn yet blindly leave for or show up to an airport and have no idea where their plane is. While we’d all love to believe that an airplane is sitting at a gate waiting just for us to get there (#ifonlyIhadaprivatejet #goals), chances are, it’s covering multiple destinations, all of which are subject to anything from weather, to construction and strikes. Use an app with real time tracking information to not only know where your plane is, but to get gate information that is sometimes ahead of the airport’s own data. Fun fact, many airports’ digital signage is also run by the same company that controls the advertising, so they may not be prioritizing feeds to be accurate to the minute. Seconds can matter, especially if you find yourself dashing in the complete opposite direction at the airport thanks to old information. But hey, at least that counts for cardio, if that’s your thing.
Way too many business travelers spend hours trying to hack their way to the perfect trip. On the one hand, it can be fun in the same way as playing the way-too-many-dishes dishwasher tetris game, however, on the other, it can be severely time-inefficient. And when things go awry, as they often do, self-booking leaves travelers out in the cold to fend for themselves. Not a great feeling when you’re in the middle of a client visit and receive a flight cancellation notice and can’t step away to get yourself on another flight in time. Then you miss out on the last seat out for the day. Then you can’t get to the next client visit. And so on. The solution is very simple- used a managed travel platform. It can save money by unlocking rates not available in the general market, but above all, rebook for you when the reality of travel goes off-script.
With all of my business travel I’m constantly staying in hotels. I hear a lot of hotel brands are making corporate travel focused upgrades to their rooms and facilities. What should I keep an eye out for the next time I’m booking a stay?
- Amenity Adoring in Atlanta
Business travelers have always kept higher expectations when it comes to streamlining their travel experience. It’s no surprise that both technological and other additions to hotel rooms are keeping this front-of-mind to attract a category that can be severely loyal and very profitable if catered to appropriately.
One of the biggest pain points for business travelers is all the potential check-in friction events along the daily grind from ridehail to flight to rental car to hotel, which is often the last stop and longest component of the sequence. At hotels, primary fiction is most often centered around both the check-in and room access processes. Hotels, from major brands to small operators are heavily investing in apps that allow for check in from a mobile device and the replacement of a roomkey with a smartphone. This not only meets traveler convenience needs, it’s also an avenue to cost savings for hotels and a way to make more eventual revenues, including booking-direct. App use of course means the acceptance of terms and conditions, in which there will often be little control of personal data. Ultimately, a hotel can understand more about guests and even push notifications centered on hotel offerings, like room service. This can be very convenient for the traveler in need of a snack, or it can be a nuisance, however it will be a trade off for the convenience of skipping a wait in the lobby after a long day of travel that many would accept.
Smart room enhancements are also allowing travelers an opportunity to treat hotel rooms the same way they might treat their own home, controlling for temperature on a schedule or at a distance. Smart home devices like Amazon Alexa have forged partnerships with brands like Marriott, which allow for travelers to ask Alexa for items like extra toiletries or room service. This can eliminate the paint point of liaising with either a front desk, guest services or a concierge, all of which may vary their delegation of services from place to place.
Hotel rooms are also adapting to the need for additional convenience with in-room amenities like gym equipment. In keeping with the technological advances in the at-home fitness space, travelers can find devices like Mirror and Peleton in addition to traditional items like weights and yoga mats. This can eliminate the need for hunting down a fitness center that may not meet timing or privacy needs, and even eliminate having to pack an acceptable additional gym outfit. It also benefits hotels and the tech-forward home fitness world by having happy guests and equipment exposure that may get folks hooked on a new device.
The high bar for keeping business travelers happy can keep many hotels on their toes in terms of technology and innovation. Addressing the business traveler’s need to remove layers of friction in travel will assist hotels to attract and retain these travelers, but also give these often under-appreciated weary travelers more time and comfort back into their lives while away from home.