ATLANTA—Small business travelers experience a number of obstacles, according to InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). In “Holiday Inn Small Business Traveler Study” conducted by Kelton Global, small business owners and employees revealed that travel can be more challenging for them than their larger business counterparts.
The study also revealed that more than 94% of small business travelers said they would be interested in staying at a hotel with a rewards offer exclusively for small business travelers. Regarding cost, small business employees are price-conscious travelers as more than half of small business employees do not have a travel policy, yet they are still careful to choose the most cost-effective option to help keep costs down for their employee’s businesses.
“For small business travelers, affordability is key, and most feel that when compared to larger companies, they pay more for travel and that it is more difficult and time consuming to book affordable business travel,” said Eric Lent, VP, Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, The Americas, IHG.
In order to make travel easy, successful and affordable for these individuals, the Holiday Inn brand and IHG Rewards Club recently introduced the new Inn Business promotion. It enables small business travelers to more quickly earn Gold Elite status during their first year of membership following just one night stay at any Holiday Inn hotel property. The program also features complimentary room upgrades, priority check-in and late checkout, and the ability to earn rewards nights faster.
The new offer is the second phase of the Holiday Inn brand’s latest evolution of the “Journey to Extraordinary” campaign, now in its third year. The campaign features the different journeys of Holiday Inn guests and, in 2016, the brand has highlighted the treks of small business travelers.
After researching nearly 300 small businesses, Holiday Inn partnered with two entities: Sword & Plough and Perfect 10.
The Denver-based Sword & Plough, founded by sisters Emily Núñez Cavness and Betsy Núñez, repurposes military surplus into fashionable bags. Perfect 10, founded by brothers Nick and Steven Carse and based in Atlanta, is an artisanal food distributor committed to building personal, long-term relationships with its customers.
“Both of these inspiring companies have purpose-led missions to change the way business is done in their respective fields, and have incredibly unique stories to tell,” said Lent. “Sword & Plough and Perfect 10 embody the entrepreneurial spirit that is the foundation of the Holiday Inn brand.”
With this campaign, Holiday Inn attempts to reinforce, through commercials and digital content, how the brand can support small business travelers. The brand documented the journeys of these two businesses over the course of a few months, across eight cities and six states nationwide, resulting in documentary-style videos showcasing both the pros and cons of small business ownership.
The campaign includes long- and short-form content for each company, which has been featured in TV and digital advertising, and across the Holiday Inn brand’s various platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as HolidayInn.com.
“These small business owners are traveling all the time, staying in hotels on a daily basis, and know how difficult it can be to focus on the bottom line while on the road constantly,” said Lent. “The hotels they stay in are truly an extension of their team, helping to enable their success.”
He added, “By sharing the small business travel experience through these companies’ eyes, we are building on the successful formula that was part of the ‘Journey to Extraordinary’ program since its outset: sharing real stories about real travelers who we know our target guest responds to positively.”
In 2014, the Holiday Inn brand introduced “Journey to Extraordinary” as a progression of the 2013 “Change Your View” campaign. This campaign was created to reintroduce the brand to a new generation of guests who may not have been familiar with how the brand has evolved, according to IHG.
“Target guest research, at the time, indicated that while people were broadly aware of the Holiday Inn brand, very few knew about the changes made to the estate as a result of the Holiday Inn global brand relaunch,” said Lent. “With the ‘Change Your View’ campaign, we told people about the changes to the brand but feedback was that they wanted to see and hear about them from fellow travelers whose stories they could identify with.”
In the latest evolution of the campaign, the brand chose to champion the joy of travel for small businesses. “Third-party research showed that small businesses typically pay more than larger companies for business travel,” said Lent. “The Holiday Inn brand was created on the basis of delivering a consistent, affordable travel option for both leisure and business travelers. It was important for us to demonstrate, through this year’s campaign, that Holiday Inn hotels are a great option for business travel as well as leisure.”
For small business travelers, in particular, IHG also takes the complication out of booking and makes it easier to save time and money by booking direct through Your Rate, an exclusive rate offered to IHG Rewards Club members when they book direct.
On average, small business travelers take as many as nine different steps to book a hotel, and those who visit hotel websites will do so an average of three times before they pick the right place, according to the “Holiday Inn Small Business Traveler Study.” HB