Navan is fortunate to partner with thousands of incredible hotels worldwide and, as a result, gets insight into what’s happening on the front lines of hospitality each year.
How Hospitality Transformed Since 2020
The buzzword “bleisure” continuously pops up when discussing changes in the hospitality industry.
Perhaps I was ahead of my time, but I’ve been capitalizing on my work trips since I started traveling for business. Why not take a day or two and experience something new? The logic is so clear: My favorite bleisure trip was when I invited my mom to join me in Berlin at the end of a work trip, and being able to see her experience Europe (and her first currywurst!) for the first time is a memory I'll always cherish.
For people who hadn’t taken advantage of this opportunity, they certainly are now: Data shows that 65% of travelers planned to combine a business and leisure trip in 2022. This is a really exciting shift for hotels, as it results in a longer length of stay. Hotels are also feeling the effect of team travel. With teams scattered across geographies, hotels that offer a variety of both formal and informal amenities attract new options for both work and play.
Whether blended, team, or straight-up business travel, the differences between a business hotel and a leisure hotel have blurred. Hotels now optimize for a lifestyle hospitality experience with an emphasis on third spaces like lounges, coffee shops, and co-working spaces where guests can be around other people for many purposes and get that sense of community while on the road.
We are seeing brands enhance their lobby offerings to draw people to spend more time there by offering extra seating, charging stations, free coffee, and more.
How Hotels Are Evolving in Favor of Business Travelers
Hotels continue to evolve to fit changing business traveler needs. They’re focusing more on traveler wellness, sustainability, and experiences to meet business travelers’ evolving expectations.
Regarding wellness, business travelers are more committed to their daily routine than ever before and seek accommodations that support a health-conscious lifestyle. This might materialize in the form of upgraded gyms, healthy on-the-go food options, and more intelligent design around lighting, space, and scent. Partnerships will continue to play a big role here, like Hilton’s partnership with Peloton.
Travelers are increasingly selecting brands aligned with their values. For many, that translates to a desire to stay at hotels with programs and products that minimize travel’s environmental impact. Travelers want the ability to skip room cleaning (sometimes in exchange for loyalty points or an F&B credit), select eco-friendly amenities, and opt for mobile room access instead of single-use plastic cards.
Little changes, by the way, add up: Hilton recently shared that they’ve helped divert more than 125 tons of plastic waste from landfills since digital keys were introduced in 2015.
Additionally, travelers are looking for a modern, seamless experience that hotels are trying to craft, in part, through enhanced mobile app offerings. With the click of a button, travelers can check in and even enter their room, bypassing the front desk completely.
While it’s not as strong as it once was, the demand for larger rooms, apartment-style accommodations, and longer stays post-pandemic has driven some groups to introduce new brands and products. Hotels that provide this kind of accommodation offer travelers something really unique: The ability to have their own space, including living space and kitchen, while also being able to tap into the community and adventure offered by a traditional hospitality experience. Companies increasingly request that these products be available to accommodate their various travelers’ needs.
Personalization Positioned for Growth in 2023
Personalization is a trend we’ve been seeing for a while, and I’m excited to see how hotels push the limit even further to create a personalized experience in 2023. Even today, guests can request a wide range of amenities on hotel apps — everything from a particular floor type, pillow density, or favorite water brand. It really makes a difference in the travel experience.
Hotels want to give travelers the best experience possible — so when they know the trip's intention, they can better serve the guest. They have more context into the guests’ needs and a better idea of how to surprise and delight them.
Personalization will continue to evolve over the next few years. When that kind of data gets automated and integrated into the hospitality experience, it leaves more time for face-to-face interactions. That’s what I’m looking forward to the most in 2023: A return to global conferences, spending more face-to-face time with our partners and meeting new ones.
Stephanie Day is the Director of Lodging and Car Partnerships at Navan based in Houston. Her role includes partnering with Navan lodging and car rental suppliers to create internal and external strategies through data insights that help partners grow their business and provide the best content and experience to Navan travelers.