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HOTELS


gives us access to live availability for more than one million hotels and a full bill-back solution that includes budget chains, such as Premier Inn and Travelodge. “Making our bookings this way provides us with real-time, detailed management information and reporting options, which enable us to make informed decisions about our staff travel.” Add to that buying power that a small or medium-size business could not expect to achieve on its own account, explains Mabbatt.


HOLDING ON TO DIRECT With TMCs allowing clients to specify preferred chains, hotels are not necessarily losing out when a travel manager chooses not to book direct and widen the net, but they are not giving up easily on their direct business. Hilton, which offers a variety of perks, including loyalty points, through its Honors programme, launched a campaign featuring Pitch Perfect star Anna Kendrick, its first celebrity talent, to encourage travellers and travel buyers alike to book direct. “We want our guests to focus on the


purpose of their travel, and not be stressed by shopping around for the best price for their hotel room or wondering if they’re getting all possible perks,” says Jon Witter, chief customer officer at Hilton. The company is putting its money where its mouth is, not only guaranteeing a price- match if those booking through one of the official Hilton sites spot a better rate else- where, but discounting the matched rate by a further 25 per cent. An additional incentive to book direct through the Honors loyalty


WE WANT OUR GUESTS TO FOCUS ON


THE PURPOSE OF THEIR TRAVEL, AND NOT BE STRESSED BY SHOPPING AROUND FOR THE BEST PRICE FOR THEIR HOTEL ROOM


programme is the ability to pre-select rooms from a digital floor plan, have a room key waiting at reception and order extra pillows or a snack to be in their room on arrival. There is also the benefit of accumulating


points towards free nights for leisure stays at any property within the group, only available through the Honors programme. “In the last year, guests who booked through an online travel agent or other travel site missed out on 15 million free nights on top of other benefits they would have received,” claims Hilton chief commercial officer Chris Silcock. Pillows and other perks that personalise the hotel experience, may be as important to the traveller as pricing to their travel buyer. Hotels are increasingly aware that corporates are delegating the choice of lodg- ings to their travellers. “Through our OBT we direct travellers to our preferred hotels,” says Npower’s McQuade, “but ultimately it is their decision where they stay.”


TIPS ON GETTING


THE BEST VALUE ■ Remember room rate is only the tip of the iceberg when pricing travel spend – cost of travelling to the end location can bump up the spend, so limit choice to properties within a reasonable range.


■ Expect free wifi to be offered as standard when it’s now virtually a worldwide industry norm.


■ Consider the added value a TMC can bring in management information, spend control and freeing up travel procurement time for a cost unlikely to exceed 2 per cent of spend.


Hilton is pushing direct sales and offering price matching


buyingbusinesstravel.com 2019 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 115


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