In the 19 years I’ve worked in business travel, I’ve seen and experienced the time and expense that goes into managing corporate hotel programs. It’s an enormous undertaking that can quickly feel overwhelming, and at times the resources required can outweigh the potential ROI.
Here are five questions to ask yourself before your next hotel RFP:
- What’s your budget? The number one objective behind implementing a preferred hotel program is to save money, and the only way to realize those savings is to establish a budget.
- Consider where savings will be realized. Is the budget company-wide or at a business unit level? What about any relevant value-adds, like breakfast, wi-fi or parking? Having a clear, calculated savings target will save you time in the negotiation process.
- What does your data tell you? An in-depth analysis of your data will help you uncover savings opportunities.
- Find out which hotels and where your travelers are booking, when they’re booking (e.g. seasonality, advanced booking practices) and what is being spent (e.g. average room rate).
- If you have preferred properties, are they being used? If not, why? If they are, are your travelers booking the negotiated rate?
- Gathering such details can impact both the negotiation process as well as how you drive compliance.
- What are your travelers’ preferences? Look at what your data tells you about your travelers’ booking behavior.
- For example, if you find out your travelers aren’t booking at your preferred properties, is it because they selected a hotel closer to their client site? Are they booking based on their own loyalty programs?
- Consider surveying your top travelers to ask about their preferences. This will help you maximize the value your program delivers to both your travelers and your company’s bottom line.
- Could a third-party program fill any gaps? In locations where your company may not have significant room night volume, consider what value an out-of-the-box hotel program can bring.
- Look at what your TMC has negotiated and weigh that against the potential ROI of your corporate program. Be sure to calculate the time, effort, and resource you need to source, negotiate, manage, audit, and service your own hotel program.
- There may be an opportunity to take advantage of a third-party program for certain markets.
- Are you communicating the value – and often? Your travelers are a click away from booking outside of your program.
- They may be selecting a property because it seems cheaper than your preferred hotels, not realizing the impact their single-stay saving may have on the annual discounts you’ve worked so hard to negotiate.
- Ask your TMC to help your travelers understand the value your preferred hotel program delivers, not to mention the duty of care risk when you don’t know where they’re staying until it’s expensed.
- Communicating the big picture regularly will help them make better booking decisions.
Here’s to your success!
Director, Global Supplier Relations, Radius Travel
Ali has over 25 years of experience in the travel sector. She began her career on the airline side, spending 11 years with Virgin Atlantic before making the transition to travel management.