You’ve considered various niche markets for your vacation rental and you’re sure you’ve found the right one: The corporate traveler. And why not? A 2011 survey by Deloitte found that business travel will increasingly drive growth in the travel, hospitality, and leisure industry.
With a furnished corporate rental, you have the benefit of being more agile than larger operations when it comes to tailoring to a niche market. Once you know your property provides the essentials that business travelers expect, you can move your marketing to the next level by:
- Looking at the needs of your ideal corporate traveler, and
- Clearly differentiating yourself from the competition.
Identifying your corporate traveler
Do your market research to identify any service gaps or particular needs for corporate rentals in your area. Chances are you’ll find that the short-term corporate housing market is well looked after; regardless of preferences, people will often make do with what’s most convenient or affordable for a night or two.
For longer stays, however, details matter more. The better you understand what’s needed in your neighborhood, the better you can customize your space to fit. For example:
- Does a local university attract visiting students or academics to the area for weeks at a time?
- Do local corporations employ consultants who may be looking for a “home away from home” for the duration of a lengthy contract?
- Are there professionals who want to avoid a lengthy daily commute by finding a “second home” near the office to use during the week?
An added benefit of reaching out directly to local business groups and corporations for your market research: You’ll already know people who are well-placed to connect you with your ideal renter.
Emerging trends you can use
Being a small and nimble operation lets you take advantage of emerging trends; by keeping an eye on what’s impacting the industry as a whole, you can play to the strengths of your particular property and adjust your marketing as needed.
The Deloitte survey found that those over the age of 45 are traveling less; it’s younger travelers — Gen X (ages 30-50) and Gen Y (ages 18-29) — who are earning their frequent flyer miles.
The challenge for the industry: These travelers expect more. Other businesses provide increasingly personalized services, and the expectation for customization is starting to impact the relatively standardized hospitality industry.
A recent study by IBM, Hotel 2020: The Personalization Paradox, says hotels that want to remain competitive and stand out in the sea of options will need figure out how to best meet the needs of their individual guests.
Think of different ways you can customize the experience for your renters with solutions like electronic billing, and pay close attention to needs of this group. For example:
- Be available via channels like social media to answer questions, or respond to issues, in a timely manner.
- Provide a comfortable work space with a desk and bright reading lights.
- Include high-speed and reliable wireless Internet access.
- Ensure any office essentials are on-hand, like a calculator, printer/scanner/copier, or voltage converter.
- Provide lots of power outlets for the variety of electronics people travel with.
The need for space
A survey by Marriott found that business people don’t want to be crowded into a small room; they prefer distinct spaces for different activities like eating, working and sleeping.
This is particularly true for longer stays; more than half of business travelers work outside normal office hours when they’re on the road, usually in their rooms.
Personal space is one of the key benefits vacation rentals offer over hotels, so make the most of yours by segmenting the space and showing it off through photos and property descriptions.
Highlighting that your space is child and/or pet friendly can also lend a significant advantage.
The blend of business and leisure
Corporate travelers increasingly blend leisure time with business trips. A survey by Egencia (an Expedia, Inc. company) found that “50% of business travellers take time to sightsee when they travel,” with many citing it as something they see as a small luxury they can take advantage of.
This is an opportunity to provide a personal touch to your marketing materials and vacation rental. Make it easy for those researching ahead of time by adding a local travel guide to your website. (An added bonus: Publishing quality localized information will help boost your website’s search ranking).
Help your renters explore the local area. Consider providing a bike as a value-added benefit for sightseeing; some vacation rental owners even offer a car rental at a discounted rate.
You may even be able to partner with local businesses or tourist services, encouraging referrals from others while providing your renters with better rates and special deals.
Customize, personalize, and tell people about it
Once you’ve identified what your ideal corporate travelers are looking for and how you can meet those needs, it’s critical that those benefits are clearly highlighted in your marketing materials.
Make the information easy to find on your website, and have printed materials available that you can provide to contacts at local corporations and business groups to let them know what you have available.
Finally, focus on getting great reviews from your happy renters; younger travelers in particular pay less attention to advertising than they do peer-to-peer recommendations on sites like FlipKey by TripAdvisor and VRBO.