Local Store Marketing: The Business Traveler

Ah, the glamour of business travel. The security lines, the $8 airport beers, the ongoing game of “how much can I stuff in an overhead bin”, all for the privilege of boarding a bus with wings. Well, this week I passed a milepost of sorts: 1.5 million airline miles flown in my lifetime – the majority of these miles business-related. This week’s trip was no different, a two-day, one-night trip to Ohio to evaluate a retail location. I prefer quicker trips – 2 nights is generally my limit – so as a business traveler, I do not get too acclimated with the places I visit. It is a quick in-and-out type of business travel.

When I travel, getting a quick lay-of-the-land is critical in order to establish some sense of order while on the road. Every little helpful tip is appreciated and providing incentives or direction to the “local jewels” makes even business travel pleasant. Ironically and prior to my travel, I had targeted this week’s article to feature how store owners can capture the business traveler and when I checked into my hotel – viola! – a restaurant had done just that! The restaurant was in walking distance of the hotel and provided a perfect combination of proximity and incentive.

Here is how store owners can attract and maintain a consistent flow of business travelers to their stores:

Find The Sources: For store owners who target business travelers or provide products and services to the out-of-towner (such as food/drink), building strong relationships with local area hotels is an excellent way to continually feed your sales hopper. Hotel guests constantly ask hotel managers for their recommendations on restaurants, retail stores, gas stations and so on. Therefore, your store needs to be top-of-mind in order to be recommended by these hotel managers.

Create Incentives: Consider developing incentive programs for hotels that recommend your store by offering discounts to their hotel guests or giving the hotel incentive prizes. Develop a tracking device so that you can ensure that the recommendation was solely due to a specific hotel and their front desk.

Tap The Revolving Door: A hotel sales strategy can provide ongoing sales opportunities simply due to the ever-changing pool of hotel patrons. If a local hotel has 500 rooms, for instance, it is a reasonable bet that nearly half of those rooms will change over every day, providing your store with a constant new pool of prospects. Hotel sales, while they will not provide long-term customer retention (hotel visitors are from out-of-town), nonetheless provide incremental sales to your store and often repeat sales when hotel customers return to town.

Diversify Your Approach: While the above strategy focuses on hotels, you should consider other key businesses (i.e. car rental places, etc.) to obtain recommendations to your store. Think like a business traveler and gain access to all the business that they will touch on their trip. Identify businesses that provide the opportunity for delivery/pickup orders.

Make A Plan: Within your 3-mile trade area, contact every hotel and ask to speak to the hotel manager. Offer the hotel manager an opportunity to earn discount product vouchers based on how many hotel patrons they refer to your store. For every 10 customers from the hotel, provide the hotel manager with a voucher that their employees can use to receive discounts at your store.

The business traveler is often overlooked with a store marketing strategy but executed correctly, can provide an unfettered stream of new business into your location. Being creative sometimes only means being “johnny-on-the-spot” for the oft-frazzled business traveler.

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Running Opportunities When Business Traveling

If you are a die-hard runner, then you may have had a difficult time traveling for business because you have felt that it took you away from your running routine.

Of course, an airline flight early one morning when you usually would run during that time segment will interrupt your running schedule that day. But you do not have to let all travel days turn into days of no running. No, there are many opportunities to run when traveling, if you take some time to think about. And here are some ideas for running when traveling.

Time Idea #1 – Get up early so that you can go for a run from and back to your hotel before your business day starts. You may have to excuse yourself from your clients or business colleagues a little early the evening before that morning, so that you can go to sleep in your hotel room early enough to get a good night of sleep before you awake extra early the next morning. But excusing yourself a little early the previous evening can actually impress the people whom you tell — because they may assume that you are extra studious about your business project or are otherwise extremely disciplined, which can be an excellent impression to leave with them!

Time Idea #2 – Excuse yourself at the end of the business day from joining colleagues or clients for dinner or drinks, so that you can return to your hotel room early that evening and go for a run before retiring for the evening. If you do not want to tell your listeners the specifics of why you are excusing yourself, then you could make a vague reference to a family obligation. (Hey, running is part of your life, and you are part of your family, so running is a family obligation, if you think about it!)

Location Idea #1 – If you awake early or return at the end of the day to your hotel room early only to discover that there is lightning or other dangerous weather outside, one of your options is to run on a treadmill in the gym of your hotel. Although treadmill running is definitely not the same as road running, you can still get a very good workout while you are exercising most of the same muscles in essentially the same way.

Location Idea #2 – Another indoor option for inclement-weather conditions is repeatedly to run up the stairs of your hotel and to walk back down them. This will give you a type of hill training that you may find especially beneficial after you return home after your business trip.

Bottom line: Be creative when you travel. You can find opportunities to run while traveling on business!

Dr. Kirk Mahoney loves to walk and run, and his SpryFeet.com website provides practical research for runners and walkers. By going to the Books section of his website, you can learn more about the books that he has written for runners and walkers, including the book Mental Tricks for Endurance Runners and Walkersand the book 123 Cellphone Tips for Runners and Walkers.