The Bieber Effect | It just might boost your hotel attachment rates.

October 13, 2010 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

by Tony | A special thanks to Michael Boult, Chief Commercial Officer of Lanyon (he made some great additions to our practical recommendations below)

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Did you read the last posting: Hotel Attachment Rates | What are you Leaving on the Table? If so, either our talk of leakage made you slightly nauseous or we piqued your interest with the opportunity to save money by increasing hotel attachment rates. Hopefully the latter applies, and now you’ve come back for some practical advice.

To recap, BTN’s stats indicate that roughly 40% of corporate bookings do not comply with company preferred vendors. At the recent Beat Live conference, this issue was the topic of discussion on a panel of hotel experts that included Michael Boult, Chief Commercial Officer of Lanyon and Andrew Winterton, CWT’s President, Suppliers, Products & Technology who corroborated that only about half of corporate hotel spend is being managed. We did some very rough math to determine that companies leave about $40 per room night on the table for each of these non-compliant reservations. These are substantial amounts.

In order to turn this around, it’s essential to get your travelers on board. I’d tell you to start mandating, but that would be as popular as telling your pre-teen daughter she has to limit her Justin Bieber (sorry to invoke the nausea again but we got some comments about the incessant Susan Boyle references so we’re changing it up) video consumption to 30 minutes a night. You’d probably tell me that this type of ultimatum would lead to a 2-day whine fest, followed by a week of the silent treatment, and capped off with a threatened hunger strike. However, what if you took a creative approach by telling your daughter that she could either watch unlimited videos on her small computer monitor with a constantly flickering display or that you will give her permission to regale in the full Bieber delight for 30 minutes on your 80” LED, high-def television complete with stereo surround sound. Ok, she’d probably opt for the unlimited viewing, but you get the point.

If you treat your travelers like adults, empower them with superior technology, you will reap the benefits associated with higher adoption rates. Here are some practical tips that will place your program on the path to success:

  • COMMUNICATE Your travelers are not travel professionals. If they stray from the corporate booking tool and reserve rooms through Priceline, they’ve possibly found rates that are lower than your corporate preferred. It is your job to communicate why this may happen and how it’s essential to stick with the program for long term value. If you’re on the ball, all of the amenities that you’ve negotiated into the preferred rate will save your team mucho dinero. Supporting a preferred hotel program enables data to be collected, maximum leverage to be achieved, and help to be provided in case of a catastrophe.
  • COMPARE Comparing hundreds of hotel prices against multiple online hotel sites are a few clicks away for travelers. How about adopting that trusty old adage, “if you can’t beat em, join em?”  New solutions allow you to compare negotiated rates with those available on OTA and supplier sites on a forward looking and regular basis. Use this information to anticipate spot market opportunities and “encourage” preferred properties to adjust their rates to enable everyone to benefit. In the big game of “Hotel: Hide & Seek,” you need evidence not anecdotes to make your case.
  • AUDIT The best place to boost hotel bookings is to ensure that your travelers have the products available to buy when they need them.  Remember, you’re competing with every other corporation for preferred-rate rooms, and in some cases properties allocate less than 50% of their inventory for this purpose. It’s critical to understand who makes the rules – in this case, it’s the revenue manager on property. It’s someone you’ve never met and probably never will. Having your rates fully and properly loaded in the hotel CRS is really important. Verifying that these rates can be booked is just as important and a step largely ignored.
  • RESEARCH A truly valuable asset is an online and easily accessible company preferred hotel directory. Enable your travelers to access interactive maps that plot company offices and the locations of preferred hotel choices.  Provide a consumer like experience with virtual tours and a way to capture and publish reviews (see LISTEN below).
  • EMPOWER Whether it’s preparing for the trip or living it, business travel is a drain on one’s personal time. When it comes to hotels, travelers want quick access to maps and reference points, the ability to tailor results to their preferences, and both driving directions and itinerary information sent straight to their mobile devices. They get this level of functionality when booking personal travel, so they expect it from the corporate booking tool as well. If you don’t serve this up, then you can kiss the adoption, and hence the hotel attachment rates, goodbye.
  • LISTEN As every relationship expert will say, you aren’t communicating unless you are actively listening. This is the most important step in the process – it’s the feedback loop that allows you to appropriately alter the program to fit the needs of your traveler. Perhaps one property or chain has a bed bug infestation.  Maybe the nearest preferred is still 60 miles away. You’ll often only be able to get this information from your travelers. And the next time you think they are just being difficult, remember that time they are sacrificing to travel on for the company.

Is there anything we missed? Let us know.

Entry filed under: Ancillary Fees, Business Travel, Events, hotels, Tony's thoughts, Travel ROI. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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