In response to COVID-19, many hotel companies have announced changes to their pricing models and corporate rate programs. This is due in part to three major industry issues:
Cost-cutting measures have led chains to become very lean and some now lack the sales team required to negotiate rates on a client-by-client basis.
Drastic swings in demand have caused erratic pricing and difficulty forecasting room revenues for 2021.
Expensive new cleanliness and safety protocols have increased the variable cost of selling a room each night.
Here are a few recommendations for how to create the best possible hotel program for your travelers safety and to drive savings.
Recognize that a corporate negotiated rate might not be in your best interest.
Travel programs that encourage travelers to book the cheapest available rates based on the dates booked, will typically see greater savings than driving all bookings into one hotel. This is especially true for 2020/21, where hotels are dropping rates to encourage business and are unable to forecast corporate demand. Unless you have sufficient volume to negotiate a rate that is consistently cheaper than all hotel options in a market, you are better off creating a travel policy around price vs hotel.
Utilize your travel providers programs to maximize savings
In order to maximize limited resources, hoteliers are working with us as a company, to provide all of our clients’ discounted rates and value-added amenities. This allows them to provide the best access across a wider audience base that will allow them to increase bookings, without the hassle of negotiating individual rates. Chains are offering more discounted rates than ever before, and individual hotels are providing aggressive set rates to drive corporate business. Reach out to your Client Relationship Manager to learn more about the programs available and how to increase usage by your travelers.
Incorporate loyalty benefits to drive soft savings
Loyalty programs may be geared towards travelers earning personal stays, but they also provide savings in the form of value-added amenities and onsite benefits. Even at the basic level, most programs provide free WIFI and early check-in/late check-out. With additional stays, the savings grow exponentially with the ability to earn free breakfast, lounge access and onsite discounts. These savings can add up quickly with top levels achieving upwards of $50-$100 per day. Corporate Traveler has worked with our partners on many different ways to let your travelers hit loyalty tiers faster so you can realize savings quickly. Your account manager can introduce you to our fast track, challenge and status match opportunities.
Keep in mind hidden costs and fees
Online booking sites may seem like a budget-friendly option for your travelers but remember there may be massive hidden costs in the form of average rates, taxes and fees. Always compare the total price for the full stay inclusive of all ancillary costs. Also, remember that online booking sites are not eligible for the loyalty benefits mentioned above nor will they earn your travelers points for their personal stays. The cost of WIFI alone typically makes these rates 5-15% more expensive than our or other TMC rates.
Speak with our experts if you aren’t sure
Corporate Traveler has a team of experts working with our hotel partners to be up to date on current pricing practices and safety protocols. Your travel manager has access to these in-house experts for assistance negotiating rates on your behalf and/or setting up your program to maximize our rates and inclusions. Should you have extensive hotel spend, we even have a hotel consulting manager who can manage an annual RFP to leverage your volume in key markets and blend in our rates, where most beneficial. Typically, we find that 250 room nights into one hotel is a good rule of thumb as to whether or not a negotiated rate would create savings. If you book via Corporate Traveler, we automatically keep an eye on your volume and will offer a negotiated rate where appropriate. Should you require a hotel with lower volume, please reach out to your travel manager and we can make sure you get the best possible rate.
Take into account cleanliness protocols and traveler confidence
Over the next few months, travelers are going to be getting back on the road for the first-time post COVID. Corporate Traveler has been working diligently with our partners to identify cleanliness requirements at a chain level as well as specific efforts at individual hotels. This information will be available to you and incorporated into our booking process. Travelers can also utilize our Journey Back to Business site to gain insight on how their experience may defer from previous business trips. Although all brands are meeting extremely high criteria, travelers may find a level of comfort at a specific chain or hotel. The lowest cost may not be the best policy, as a confident traveler is always going to be most productive.
At Corporate Traveler, we believe in getting our clients the best rate possible when it comes to hotel stays along with value-added amenities that will keep travelers productive and happy. If you don’t have a hotel program or want to update your current one, let us know! We’d be happy to help.