Skift Take

Today’s road warrior prizes efficiency and looks for technology-driven perks like free WiFi when choosing a place to stay. Hotels would be wise to listen up.

This sponsored content was created in collaboration with a Skift partner.

It’s a familiar story to many business travelers: Find your car, check into your room, unpack your bags, then spend several frustrating minutes logging on to the hotel’s WiFi. After selecting a plan, inputting your credit card and choosing a password, you’re connected.

Until tomorrow when you have to do it all over again.

When logging on, “business travelers don’t want to have to go through the extra step of entering your room number and what plan you want,” says Chris McGinnis, editor of Travel Skills. “Good, fast WiFi, boom, one click and you are in for the duration for your stay is the Cadillac right now.”

That’s the consensus of business travelers surveyed by Skift in August 2014 with free WiFi topping the list of factors influencing their choice in hotels. Two groups especially — young, millennial business travelers and those with higher incomes — said they value connectivity, a sign for hotels who want to engage and cultivate loyal business travelers with money to spend.

While in-lobby coffee and newspapers have been boons for the previous generation of business traveler, the new generation is clearly seeking a new crop of amenities aimed at making their stays more efficient. In addition to WiFi, these include a convenient location and, in some cases, free breakfast.

And with U.S. business travel spending expected to grow 6.6% to $289.8 billion this year, according to the Global Business Travel Association, hotels might be wise to make WiFi a free amenity, and even include basic services like access to color printers and conference rooms in business travelers’ stays.

Technology in general is key when it comes to making a business traveler’s stay easier, says Joe McInerney, president of McInerney Hospitality International and president and CEO emeritus of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

“Hotels are making it easier for people to check in,” he says. “Even though we are a ‘touch industry’ and want to provide that great level of service, people want convenience.”

Frequent business travelers can make their stays more comfortable by tapping into technology perks from loyalty programs, or consider getting a hotel credit card that gives status, like the Hilton HHonors (TM) Surpass (R) Card from American Express, which gives Card Members automatic Gold status for the lifetime of their card account. Among other benefits, Hilton HHonors Gold Status provides eCheck-In, which allows members to select their room and check in online up to 24 hours in advance at participating properties, as well as complimentary in-room and lobby WiFi at many properties.

Additionally, by the end of the year, Hilton plans to allow guests in more than 4,000 hotels worldwide to choose their rooms after booking. Guests can log in to the HHonors iPhone and Android apps or sign in on their desktops and select a room beginning at 6 a.m. the day before their stay.

Hilton intends to roll out a program allowing guests to use their smartphones as their room keys in four U.S. hotel brands by the end of 2015, and at many worldwide properties by the end of 2016.

In some cases, just small tweaks make the difference to the business traveler.

“When coffee is free, it can be pretty awful,” says McGinnis. “Instead, hotels might put a Keurig maker in each room, with real cream, or a local dark roast downstairs. It’s not really technology, but it matters.”

This content is created collaboratively in partnership with our sponsor, American Express.

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Tags: business travel, wi-fi

Photo credit: Shuttershock

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