"The forecast is very encouraging. We can expect a steady increase in occupancy level for the year ahead and can see a 20 per cent growth from the third quarter. Business travellers are looking for smart hotels with prompt service standard and good communication levels. Luxury is not the major concern for a large number of travellers", Rupam of Radha Regency says.
Prakash Ryon, Corporate General Manager, Nandhana Grand Koramangala and Nadhana Hometel, which runs a chain of business hotels, agrees, saying "We are seeing an uptake of 15 per cent in occupancy compared to last year."
He said there has been a lot of corporate movement, with recession receding and recovery of the market. "The luxury market and increase in domestic travellers in December also added to numbers".
"We are seeing corporate negotiations from existing firms which use our hotel for middle management and senior management executives. These corporates are negotiating for our high end suites now", he said while explaining the flow of senior management from five star hotels to business hotels.
Prakash said business hotels make sense to corporates as they have begun offering good facilities minus huge cost tags, which include complimentary wi-fi facilities, dinner coupons, free pick up and drop to airports and a more lavish and elaborate breakfast spread.
"The price difference between the upper end and mid-market segment is around 50 per cent," he said.
Explaining the move towards business hotels, S Raghunath, who handles marketing for India for Electra Polymers (UK) and a frequent business traveller, said, "Most travellers are middle management. Hence business hotels suit our requirements".
"Nobody has time to go around for a spa or sauna. Basically most businessmen are off for their business meeting by 8 AM and return late. What they look for is basically the bed and breakfast concept, which is what these hotels offer", he said.
"Moreover, hotels in India are overpriced with average pricing being around 200 dollars while in Thailand the best hotel room comes at an average of 80 dollars", he said.
Company Guest houses have their own maintenance issues, says Raj Rajkumar, Managing Director ADC, whose firm has turned to business hotels to lodge overseas customers.
"Company guest houses also means hiring personnel. Keeping such guest houses no longer makes sense on account of high rents, power bills and housekeeping tabs," he said.
A leading multinational recently ceased using serviced apartments as it found business hotels more economical, sans operational costs. A business hotel makes more sense as it offers basic requirements-- lodging and food. The price factor of a business hotel also makes it a better value proposition than running a company guest house, Rajkumar said.
Corporates who scout for business hotels look for hotels that have two or three restaurants in the premises or near it so that visitors can have options to dine.Restaurants that are open till late night and ones that provide good breakfast score high on corporate cards.
Additional facilities like ensuring pick up at airports, booking cab services, those located near airports and those offering concessions like half-day booking charges for overseas visitors who depart from hotels in wee hours are welcome, said Raj.
"Innovation is the buzz word. Hotels need to keep the menu as per travellers' needs but they also ought to keep changing the menu every three months," Rupam said.
Business Hotels offering technology was welcome but adding a price tag to every technology offer was not one that went down well with travellers, he opines.
For business hotels that are ready to invest on innovation, upgrade facilities and keep prices competitive, future prospects appear bright.