Hyatt Thinks It Knows Business Travelers – Does It?


by Robert McGarvey


The more I learn from hotels about what they say they know about business travelers, the more I am skeptical, indeed the more I think they know bupkis.

A proof comes via Hyatt which, working with Harris Poll which conducted an online survey of 1300 adults who have traveled for business in the last year, has dug deep into what makes business travelers tick – so now does it really know you?  The focus was on what motivates business travelers and what we learn during our travels.  The hotel company that really gets that will have an edge. Does Hyatt?

You be the judge.

Among the findings:

  • 77% of US business travelers say business travel has helped them communicate more successfully with different types of people. The number varies by nationality. 95% of Indians, for instance, say similar.  Is this true for you? For me, sure, but I don’t see this as a rocket science insight. Anything that gets us out and about and interacting with a range of other people helps our communication skills, I think.
  • 68% of business travelers say business travel inclines them to be more empathetic with others, says Hyatt. As for me, nah, I don’t believe it. I see so much astounding rudeness on the road (mea culpa, sometimes it’s me who is rude).  I don’t see increased empathy. Look at the scrum for overhead storage space in coach. Are the combatants – many of whom are business travelers – more empathetic?
  • 59% of international business travelers see challenges as opportunities to grow.  OK, sure, but that mindset is standard for anybody who wants to get ahead.  Get handed lemons and the successful person thinks lemonade.  I’m actually surprised this percentage is only 59%. And just because we see something as an opportunity to grow doesn’t mean we applaud it. Or that we grow.
  • 92% of employed US business travelers are inclined to advance their careers.  Duh? You thought people went on the road because they like too small coach seats, lumpy and strange mattresses, and gallons of bad coffee?  Almost everybody I’ve known who travels a lot for business does it to advance. They suffer the hotels they stay in as a means to an end.
  • More business travelers, says Hyatt, are driven by creating a better life for their families (48%) than by receiving praise or recognition at work (33%). No real surprise here.
  • 77% of US business travelers believe they have learned skills that can help them in their personal life. Agreed. I have learned everything from how to more intelligently order in a posh sushi bar to how to calm an angry colleague.  It all adds up and business skills blur with personal. I am glad for the business travel I’ve had, very glad, even if there were many moments when I was miserable and other moments when I was enraged.  And I do keep working on skills to help me better cope with road stresses.

The survey also dug a bit into our on the road habits – somewhat randomly – and here Hyatt and I go in very different directions.

  • 22% think wearing pajamas on conference calls made from a hotel room is a major perk.  Really? Do you bring pj’s in your travel bag? I cannot recall ever doing it.  I have worn hotel robes of course and made phone calls wearing them but a perk that isn’t.  Not to me. It’s just a convenience. And I don’t think I have ever packed pj’s for a business trip.
  • 27% say they binge watch TV shows in hotel rooms.  I never have. As in never. I have at home, occasionally (most recently: Good Girls Revolt on Amazon).  But other than watching news shows, I don’t recall watching any TV in hotel rooms. None. Nor anything on my iPad. Trips just have very busy to-do lists.
  • 26% of business travelers indulge with a stiff drink at the hotel bar. In my case: guilty as charged in decades past, not so much now, not because I am older but because trips just seem busier.  Now at night I go back to my room and write up what happened that day, typically because clients who are paying for the travel want to know what I’m learning and they want to know now.

Add it up and I’m not impressed with the Hyatt findings. Are you? They could have gotten equally potent insights with a few Tarot card readings.

Hyatt, incidentally, in the fine print at the bottom of its press release about the poll makes this comment: “These online surveys are not based on a probability sample, and therefore, no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.”



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