Although hotels are meant to provide a place to rest your weary head after a long day of meetings, finding a hotel that fits budget and travel policy can be nothing but a headache for travel or procurement managers.
Hotels make up a huge proportion of travel spend for many organisations, but are at the same time an area of business travel in which it can be difficult to receive value for money due to fluctuating, and sometimes misleading, prices.
Whether you choose to implement a hotel programme is entirely up to what you feel is right for your organisation’s culture; some travellers like the straight forward nature of a hotel programme, whereas others find that an online booking tool that offers them lots of varied content and direct connections to popular brands means that they’re always able to find a rate that’s within policy, and so a hotel programme would be redundant.
However, if you do choose to implement a hotel programme within your organisation then here’s some best practice advice from Click’s Director of Operations, Chris Vince, to consider beforehand:
– There is no point in using a static programme that mandates a set rate, as this will not actually be reflective of the best available rates all year round. Depending on events and peak times that occur in the vicinity of the hotel, rates can fluctuate and so there will be times throughout the year during which non-corporate rates will actually be better.
– Hotels generally try to do RFPs during periods that are traditionally more quiet in the hotel industry like April, for example. Sending your RFP during this period means that you have an increased chance of finding hotels that are struggling to hit their targets and so are more likely to give a better rate.
– Hotel managers work on RevPar (revenue per available room) and so you could find yourself securing a very favourable rate if you send an RFP to a hotel that’s ‘in need’ – e.g a hotel that has lost a major contract and are looking for a high volume of room nights.
– Although it’s tempting, don’t overinflate your figures – doing so will only cause hotels to start chasing you for extra volume. Once the RFP has been sent and the rates start coming through, you’ll have a myriad of options to choose from.
– The best available options usually come from a blend of discounted BAR rates as well as receiving a discount on LRA rates. If you push too hard and force hotels to offer the lowest possible rate, then the chances are that you won’t ever actually receive it.