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Hotel Program Success

View numbers and travel patterns to enhance success.

You hatched a hotel program to secure the best room rates and amenities for your business travellers, but it takes more than discounted rates to make it fly.

Ignite spoke with Neysa Silver, who leads the hotel consulting practice in North America for Carlson Wagonlit Travel, to review a few key ways to hone a program’s success.

Focus on your coverage. Use a realistic yardstick of what you can accomplish. “For the typical organization we deal with, in general, 80% to 90% [usage of preferred hotels] would be good coverage,” says Silver. “Keep in mind that’s for an organization that has more concentrated travel patterns to specific destinations.”

If your organization sees constantly changing travel patterns, such as for a globe-trotting consulting firm, there’s less chance your hotel program can viably cover every possible place. In this case, corporate travel management can take a more proactive hand to identify emerging trends. This is based on monitoring expense reporting, corporate card data or vendor reports, after-the-fact, but you might also be able to anticipate future travel needs.

“Potentially, you can take advantage of being more interconnected at work,” says Silver. “If you talk to your sales team regularly, and know that there is a new project coming up somewhere, it allows you to prepare ahead,” she says.

Learn from compliance patterns. If business travellers seem to steer clear of your hotel picks in a destination, despite your communication efforts, read between the lines. “If [your group spends] 1,000 room nights in, say, Atlanta, and just 200 are booked in your preferred hotels, you might have to ask yourself, ‘do I have the right properties in my program?’”

Before shaking a stick at travellers, it may be prudent to reevaluate their needs and adjust your roster of hotels. “Look at where they’re staying,” says Silver. “Maybe there’s something the travellers know, or a reason why it’s advantageous to stay in one place and not another.” A particular hotel may even trump a lower-cost alternative, if it means improved safety and security, or availability of more desirable amenities.

Benchmark and audit your numbers. If business travellers don’t get your negotiated rate when they make a reservation, whether through your online booking tool or via a travel counselor, it compromises a successful hotel program.

Unfortunately, suggests Silver, travellers are offered incorrect rates more often than most people think. According to CWT Hotel Solutions Group research, only 71% of corporate buyer rates are initially loaded correctly into global distribution systems (GDSs) by hoteliers. This can be identified through benchmarking booked rates versus negotiated rates, or by an independent audit of the rates that have been entered into the GDS by the hotels. “It can take up to five audits to get 90% to 95% accuracy,” says Silver.

Got Your Rate?
Hotels are responsible for loading negotiated rates into the global distribution system under a buyer’s access code. “Due to the sheer volume of rates that must be manually loaded or updated in a system, it is not uncommon to have rate access codes incorrectly loaded or not loaded at all,” according to CWT Viewpoint.

By Julie Charles

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