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HOTELS


SLEEPING


When it comes to attracting corporate guests, mid-market hotels in the UK are keeping good relationships with buyers and TMCs alike


110 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019 D


O TRAVEL BUYERS WHO BOOK DIRECT get the best bang for their buck? Might they save time and get better coverage by outsourcing the task to a TMC that charges for their services but can bring added value in


the management information they provide? Or should they just invite employees to go online, look for the best deal within guidelines and bill back on expenses? Looking at the UK’s mid-market sector, which is dominated by Travelodge and Premier Inn, it appears these chains recognise the value of relationships with both channels, even those as competitive as Premier Inn, which attracts corporates whether they procure rooms for travellers direct or not. “We’re seeing more travel buyers who outsource hotel bookings to TMCs mandating our inclusion in the mix,” says Gareth Nihan, Premier Inn’s head of


corporate accounts for the south of England. “Price certainly plays a part in that, but corporate clients also value the coverage we can offer as the UK’s largest hotel brand.” One client reporting “high adoption” of Premier Inn is Npower. It encourages its 2,000 regular travellers to consult online booking tool Cytric and also maintains a travel desk manned by CWT. The TMC provides management information and sources rooms for five per cent of employees who can’t find good matches for their re- quirements online. “The tool accesses all the negotiated rates we have in place and the rate caps we have instituted for particular cities or areas, sending us an alert when someone goes over the red line – in which case we can step in and assist,” says travel buyer Jo McQuade, who also procures travel for asso- ciate companies of the energy provider. McQuade has reasons beyond keen price and wide coverage for including Premier Inn


buyingbusinesstravel.com


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