How to Choose the Best Hotel for Business TravelBy Tom Riley
When it comes to picking hotels for business travel, there's a lot to think about — location, cost, amenities. What about rewards programs? Here's how to tackle this crucial business trip decision.
When traveling for business, few things are as important as the hotel. A great hotel will allow travelers to focus on their work without having to stress about the commute to meetings or where to get their next meal.
Business travelers fly around the world making deals — the last thing they need is stressed over their hotel accommodations.
Need some help making sure you’re putting up travelers in the right hotels? Here are some of the most important factors to consider when choosing a hotel for business travel.
Hotel Room Price
The most influential factor in determining the hotel you can stay at is the price.
Different companies have different budgets for hotel rooms and it is important that employees stick to these budgets. Many companies identify a “reasonable corporate hotel rate”, and set that cap across all their employees’ business trips.
But the best corporate travel policies have dynamic pricing, which provides budgets that vary depending on the destination, time of year, and amenities.
When it comes to choosing the best hotel, location matters (a lot)!
Be sure to always research the destinations(s) for each trip and then go about looking for nearby hotels. It’s important to understand the landscape of the city.
Where is the conference being held?
Is there a recommended hotel in the same vicinity?
Where might other meetings take place?
Then, identify the exact location of hotel options. If a hotel claims something like “the Hynes Convention Center is easy to reach from our hotel,” you should be sure to determine whether or not that is actually the case. “Easy” to some may be viewed as a 15-minute walk, while others may consider “easy” to be a 15-minute subway ride.
It’s also important to look at the location of the hotel to find out what other points of interest are near it. For example, you may want to be close to restaurants, shopping areas, or entertainment.
When traveling for business, hotel amenities can be a lifesaver.
We suggest that you determine what hotel amenities are important to your team of travelers and prioritize them when choosing a hotel.
Here are some of the most important amenities to look for:
- Functional workspace
Business travelers are focused on being productive so having a functional workspace in a hotel is essential.
To stay productive while traveling, business travelers should look for hotels that have rooms with a comfortable desk along with high-speed Wi-Fi (preferably free).
- Meeting Space
When meeting up with co-workers or clients it is important to have a meeting space to gather in.
Hotel lounges and restaurants can often serve as a perfect option. If you anticipate having conversations that require more privacy, you should look for a hotel that offers a true meeting space, such as a breakout room.
- Fitness options
Keeping fit is a great way to ensure a successful trip.
Exercising has proven to improve cognitive function, help the body relax, boost creativity, and increase productivity.
Most of the time people are unable to stay fit while traveling due to a poor gym facility offered at hotels. It is important to understand what kind of gym (if any) is offered at the hotel (or near) you are planning to book.
- Dining options
Business travelers need to eat a lot of meals out, so you must consider the dining options when choosing a hotel.
The most convenient option is when a hotel has a great in-house restaurant that you can dine at or order room service from.
Some hotels do not offer full-scale restaurants, so travelers will need to go out to get meals. It’s important to look at the dining options around the hotel to be sure there is something appealing.
So what are the best hotel companies?
First we'll take a look at the hotel companies with the best reviews.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) released its 2018-2019 Travel Report earlier this year revealing the top rated hotel companies.
The report used data from over 300,000 customers to analyze the customer satisfaction ratings of 400 companies. ASCI released the satisfaction number of each company using a scale from 0-100.
The scale considered a variety of factors, such as ease of check-in process, courtesy and helpfulness of staff, room quality, in-room amenities, quality of hotel amenities, and quality of food services.
Here are the rankings along with their satisfaction score:
- Hilton *80*
- Marriott *80*
- Hyatt *79*
- InterContinental *78*
- Best Western *77*
- Choice *74*
- La Quinta (Wyndham) *74*
- All Others *73*
- Wyndham *70*
- G6 Hospitality (Motel 6) *64*
As you can see from the list, Hilton and Marriott were deemed the top hoteliers.
Hilton and Marriott are widely regarded as two of the top hotel companies for business travel because of the consistent quality and value. Business Traveller also awarded Marriott and Hilton as two of the top worldwide hotel companies in their 2018 Business Traveller Awards.
What about the best hotel chains for business travel?
Let's zoom in a bit — what about the specific chains?
To determine which hotel chains are best for business travelers, we can turn to the Certify SpendSmart Report.
Certify’s quarterly SpendSmart Report analyzes the most recent business expense transactions and vendor rating data to provide valuable insights to the corporate T&E industry at large.
In the second quarter report of 2019, they found that the top 5 most popular hotel chains for business travelers were Marriott, Hampton Inn, Courtyard by Marriott, Holiday Inn Express, and Hilton Inn. The top-rated hotels were Hyatt, Marriott, Courtyard by Marriott, Embassy Suites, and Hilton.
The top-rated hotel chains and what they offer:
- Hyatt Hotels
Hyatt Hotels are consistently ranked among the top hotels for business travelers because of the world-class dining options, exceptional service and amenities, and engaging meeting spaces.
Hyatt Hotels also typically have great locations in cities, specifically in business districts.
Marriott Hotels, the company’s global flagship brand, offer business travelers a great place to retreat, recharge, and refocus.
Marriott hotels are known for having great food options, amazing staff, and convenient locations.
Marriott hotels also offer a variety of amenities that can be used during business trips. These include free breakfast, free high-speed Wi-Fi in all suites and the lobby, dry cleaning service, and business centers.
Marriott Hotels focus on health which is extremely important for many business travelers. The hotels have fitness centers and continue to focus on innovations to keep travelers staying healthy. Marriott recently launched Mind Menus which includes a variety of delicious snacks and beverages with active ingredients that will enhance your mind and body.
- Courtyard by Marriott
Courtyard by Marriott is a perfect hotel chain for any road warrior.
The Courtyard hotels are simple, clean, and practical. They offer everything you need — and nothing you don’t. Courtyard hotels usually offer breakfast, free high-speed Wi-Fi, and a simple gym.
The hotel is able to offer competitive rates by avoiding offering extra services such as room service, bellhop help, and full restaurants. Courtyard hotels also are typically located in suburban areas.
The lack of extra services and the out-of-city locations allow Courtyard hotels to be a lower-cost options to their urban counterparts. If you’re a road warrior traveling to suburban areas, and looking for a clean and consistent hotel option, Courtyard hotels are a great place to stay. (I should also mention that Courtyard received an 81 satisfaction rating in the ACSI Travel Report, putting them within the top 5 best hotel brands.)
- Embassy Suites
Embassy Suites are extremely business-friendly hotels that, like Courtyard, offer all of the essentials for business travel.
Embassy Suites offer free high-speed internet, breakfast, 24-hour business centers, and fitness centers.
They also offer all guests spacious multi-room suites… hence the name of the brand.
Embassy Suites are typically not located in cities, but many offer complimentary shuttle service to metro areas or public transportation stations.
Embassy Suites scored the second highest satisfaction rating in the ACSI Travel Report with a score of 84.
- Hilton Hotels
Hilton Hotels & Resorts is the flagship brand of the Hilton Collection and a very popular lodging option for business travelers.
Hilton Hotels cover all of the essentials (and more) for business travelers by offering great dining options, comfortable rooms, and amazing amenities. Business groups frequent Hilton Hotels because of their innovative meeting spaces which include Wi-Fi, a projector, flip chart and markers, and food and beverage service.
The best hotel reward program for business travelers
If you travel a lot for business, it’s a smart idea to sign up for a hotel rewards program.
But, choose carefully because not all rewards programs are created equally. When choosing a rewards program you will want to consider a few things:
- Value of points
- Ease of earning points
- Ease of redeeming points
There are positives to negatives to every rewards program so find one that best suits you and your travel habits.
We recommend finding a business travel rewards program that will fit your lifestyle. It’s typically best to have one hotel rewards program with a hotel you stay at frequently.
That being said, it is also smart to open rewards programs with several hotel providers because they are totally free.
Here are some of the best options:
Hyatt Hotels is not only one of the leading chains for business travelers, but they also have a great travel rewards program.
Rewards members receive special rates, exclusive offers, early check-in, late checkout, and complimentary internet at participating locations. They also receive free breakfast at participating Hyatt Place hotels.
Travelers can earn points quickly on stays, dining, and spa services at more than a dozen Hyatt brands including Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Andaz, Hyatt Place, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Residence Club, Joie de Vivre, MGM Resorts, Park Hyatt.
For each dollar spent on stays, dining, and spa services, members earn 5 base points. These points can be used for room upgrades, dining rewards, spa services, and free nights. Free nights are the most popular way to use rewards points, and Hyatt members can get free nights starting at just 5,000 points for standard rooms.
If you are a frequent guest at Hyatt hotels and want to earn more points you can consider getting the World of Hyatt Credit Card.
Value: The Points Guy estimates the average value of a World of Hyatt Loyalty Program point is worth about 1.7 cents
Marriott Bonvoy is often considered one of the best rewards programs for business travelers who visit major cities around the world.
Marriott Bonvoy is great because it allows business travelers to earn points at any of Marriott’s 30+ hotel brands, which include over 7,000+ properties.
For those unfamiliar with the subsidiaries of Marriott, they own: The Ritz-Carlton Hotels & Resorts, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, W Hotels. Sheraton, Fairfield Inn & Resorts, Courtyard by Marriott, Westin Hotels & Resorts, Renaissance Hotels and more.
Members of the Marriott Bonvoy rewards program can benefit from VIP experiences, member-only rates, free internet, and mobile check-in/services.
Marriott Bonvoy is generous with rewards points — they award members 10 points for every dollar they spend at most Marriott hotel brands. Bonvoy members can also earn miles by flying with Marriott’s 40+ airline partners, as well as by using their car rental and cruise ship partners.
Points can be redeemed for a variety of perks including gift cards, travel packages, cars, flights, and of course free nights. Like Hyatt, free nights at Marriott hotels start at just 5,000 points.
Value: The Points Guy estimates the average value of a Marriott Bonvoy point is worth about .80 cents
The InterContinental Hotels Group's (IHG) Rewards Club allows travelers to receive rewards when staying at any of the companies’ 5,000 hotels.
IHG owns a number of top brands including InterContinental, Kimpton, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Regent, Even Hotels, and Holiday Inn.
Members benefit not only from earning points, but also from the free internet, extended check-out, dedicated customer service, and reward nights.
The IHG Rewards Club offers members 10 points for every $1 spent at their brand hotels, except for Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites which offer members 5 points for every $1. Aside from staying at IHG hotels, rewards club members can earn points from traveling, dining, and shopping with their partners.
IHG allows their points to be redeemed for just about anything. They can be redeemed for gift certificates, airline miles, TSA precheck, donations, and much more. If you are looking to redeem points on the traditional free night stay, this can also be done. Free nights start at 5,000 points.
Value: The Points Guy estimates the average value of an IHG Rewards Club point is worth about .50 cents
Hilton Worldwide boasts over 5,600 hotels in over 100 countries under over a dozen brands.
The top Hilton brands include Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels, Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, DoubleTree, Homewood Suites, and Embassy Suites. Aside from earning points, Hilton Honors benefit from receiving free wifi, exclusive app features, and lowest prices.
Earning Hilton honor points is easy. Base points can be earned when you stay at hotels and resorts with the Hilton portfolio. For every dollar you spend on a room, you earn 10 Hilton Honors base points. You can also earn bonus points by signing up for the latest Hilton Honors Bonus Promotions. Additionally, points can be earned by shopping, dining, and traveling with Hilton partners.
Points can then be redeemed in a variety of ways. You can use Hilton Honors points to shop on Amazon, book travel experiences, and even transfer them for partner airline points. And of course, you can redeem the points for free nights at Hilton hotels. Free nights start at just 5,000 points.
Value: The Points Guy estimates the average value of a Hilton Honors point is worth about .60 cents
Woah — that’s a lot of information.
So how do you know which hotel companies, chains, and rewards programs are the best hotels for you business?
Think through your company’s top priorities, and your travelers’ preferences, and you’ll likely find some top contenders at the intersection of the two.