B2E: How ‘employee experience’ is driving a new kind of travel

The co-founders of a ‘lifestyle rental platform’ believe they have identified a gap in the fast-growing corporate travel sector

The term ‘bleisure’, the practice of combining business with leisure, is now well-known travel industry parlance. However, today it encompasses more than just tagging an extra night or two onto a business trip. When on business, the modern traveller expects more from the experience. They want to continue with the activities that matter to them, which often involves staying fit and healthy, they want home-from-home amenities, and they also want to enjoy local experiences. A growing number of travel companies are tapping into this demand and AltoVita, a European ‘lifestyle rental platform’ which combines high quality homes with personal a la carte services, is one.

Launched two years ago, as frequent travellers co-founders Vivi Cahyadi and Karolina Saviova understand how trying it can be to settle into a new destination. With AltoVita, they believe that they have identified a gap in the market for a quality controlled ‘e-concierge’ service for booking high-quality accommodation as well as in-destination services.

The emergence of a business-to-employee (B2E) accommodation platform will give more autonomy to employees to choose their accommodation while still adhering to corporate policies

While the platform is not exclusively for business travellers, the two women see the changing nature of corporate travel as a huge opportunity. One indication of this has been the growing demand for ‘alternative accommodation’, as witnessed by the rapid growth of Airbnb for Work. In 2017, the business travel arm of Airbnb reported having 250,000 companies signed up, and a year later that figure had more than doubled to 700,000.

In the market for extended business stays, in particular, guests are looking for a ‘home from home’ experience. This represents an opportunity because, as Cahyadi explains, “unlike hotel bookings, bookings into serviced apartments or corporate housing for average stays of over four weeks is still predominantly offline”. For this reason, she expects to see continued investment in the digitisation of the sector and the creation of a B2B2C booking experience because “consumers want more freedom when it comes to corporate accommodation booking”. 

According to the Global Serviced Apartment Reports, less than 50% of companies still do not have full autonomy when booking corporate accommodation. The B2B2C model, argues Cahyadi, allows businesses to set their safety, budget and other parameters while at the same time enabling the consumers, in this case the employees, to have more freedom of choice.

With greater transparency in the corporate travel accommodation booking process and less involvement from travel management companies (TMCs) Cahyadi foresees “the emergence of a business-to-employee (B2E) accommodation platform will give more autonomy to employees to choose their accommodation while still adhering to corporate policies”.

Well, well, the rise of generation health!

Companies today understand that if their employees have a good experience while travelling this can improve productivity and impact the bottom line. According to the findings of recent CX Trends in Travel survey from EyeforTravel by Reuters Events, 63% of the 650+ respondents said that the employee experience is crucial to delivering a great customer experience (CX). And, since CX is widely viewed as the new battleground in the travel industry, keeping employees happy and healthy, and especially when they are on the road, is a key consideration.

With AltoVita, the aim is to address the modern pain points of travelling, such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle and day-to-day routine while they are abroad. “We believe that travellers will continue to demand this,” says Saviova. A 2019 study from CWT, which finds that health and wellness is a priority for 83% of business travellers, seems to back this up.

A 2019 study from CWT finds that health and wellness is a priority for 83% of business travellers

As “every guest is different and there is no one-size fits all,” each AltoVita stay is personally designed. The team works with property management companies and hospitality professionals to hand pick properties against a checklist of rigorous standards. Understanding that the modern traveller wants more than simply a ‘stay’, guests also have the opportunity to choose from an a la carte menu of curated in-destination services. These include everything from transportation to storage, grocery shopping, extra cleaning, private chefs, catering, childcare, laundry and dry cleaning. 

Looking ahead, travel planning will not end with a flight or hotel booking. “There will be in-destination services offered seamlessly to guests which can be booked prior to their arrival or during the trip,” Saviova says.

To find out more about the emerging rentals market, a recent EyeforTravel by Reuters Events white paper includes interviews from US-brand WhyHotel and Vacasa

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