By Paula Conway
Originally printed in the New York Daily News
New York small business owner Bradley Bailyn, a partner in Good Media Company, and his wife were able to enjoy their first family vacation in two years when Bradley cleverly decided to rent an apartment in the Dolphin House in Westminster, London, for a recent business conference instead of staying in a hotel. The apartment in Westminster, booked through Wyndham Vacation Rentals’ UK collection, Hoseasons, provided the perfect opportunity to combine business with pleasure.
“London is expensive, but when I found the apartment with Wyndham Exchange and Rentals and did the math, renting the apartment was the cost-effective option. My wife and I were able to cook our own meals at home, and the apartment building also came with some great perks: an Olympic-sized pool and gym facility access at no extra charge, plus steep discounts at the Aman Spa on property. This is now my preferred work and home spot when in London.”
The trend among small business owners and executives to book homes over hotels has increased in recent years. Bob Milne, president of Wyndham Vacation Rentals North America, cites the uptick to the need for businesses to save money, “Our business overall continues to see an uptick in vacation rentals revenue across our more than 95,000 U.S. and European brands. We believe this positive trend is fueled by a growing appetite for vacation rentals in both leisure and business settings. Consumers are coming to understand the incredible value a rental offers with conveniences such as a full kitchen, washer/dryer and ample space. They understand they’re getting more for their discretionary dollars, and at Wyndham Vacation Rentals we can fill that consumer demand with a wide variety of professionally-managed rentals.”
Carole Hyatt, the president and founder of The Leadership Forum based in Manhattan, gave up booking hotels for her seminars in San Miguel to include vacation time while working. “The home we rented in San Miguel has seven bedrooms, which allows us to work and play at the same time. We host the seminars at the house, and then also use the home, which is close to the center of town, to include some family time too.”
Jeff Chase, the vice president for business development with Villa Direct in Orlando, cites the recent recession as the reason for a large part of the push toward home rental for business over hotels.
“Industries got hit hard by the recession, and as consumers become more aware of their spending habits, they are looking for better ways to make their money go farther. In the last year we’ve seen a big increase in companies and individuals renting vacation homes booking for both business and pleasure. It’s also more relaxing than a typical hotel room. Our customers can have chefs come in and cook for business meetings, they host business parties at the home and have family to come along. ”
Many companies also offer incentives to entice business travelers away from hotels. Villa Direct gives free long-distance calling to all guests in Villa Direct homes, as well as free Internet access in most homes. Discounts on rental cars, theme parks and attractions, as well as a concierge team to coordinate anything guests need, from private chefs to business luncheons, are on hand 24/7.
Tom Ridgeway, owner of Hilton Head Island Rentals, has noticed significant changes in the business vacation bookings, and the demand for perks to keep his consumers happy has increased.
“The game has changed from the large corporation retreats, which had a stigma attached to them, to small businesses renting six and seven bedroom homes for creative sessions to grow business and facilitate communications among company divisions. We offer our customers total lodging and golf packages with incentives like reduced rates for golf and tennis, plus concierge services to meet their needs 24/7. Our clients want bikes delivered, breakfasts made in the home, to be driven to meetings on the island or golf games. The demands are far and wide and we need to meet those needs and offer incentives for them to book again.”
When the game has changed to deliver more services for less money, who can argue?