Hotel sourcing: There is no off season
Today’s hotel programs are changing, and yesterday’s best practices are no longer the best. Hotel demand is growing, and so are rates. Many hotels are upgrading their revenue management technology and shifting to more dynamic pricing. They’re using data that is bigger, faster and more detailed, all of which becomes leverage during negotiations.
To improve your hotel program performance, you need a more progressive approach. By thinking strategically and accessing new types of information, you have plenty of opportunity to level the playing field.
Buyers can achieve success and improve their negotiating position. It begins with analyzing “transaction level data,” or information that comes from agencies, corporate cards and other sources. This data takes a deep dive beyond high level information to identify travel trends and patterns, spend on specific days, availability of different properties, rates that are being booked, and much more. Summary level data has traditionally been adequate, but it’s no longer enough. For you to put together a stronger business case for negotiations in today’s environment, you need transaction level data that is combined with advanced analytics and data modeling.
But sourcing is just the first step in the process. To get the results you need, it’s equally important to take a more dynamic approach to hotel program management.
In this changing environment, you need to measure the value of your rates against what is available in the market in real time. Your travelers are increasingly looking at hotel rates across multiple channels and in real time – comparing what they find against your company’s negotiated rates. They’re the first to know when your rate is higher than what’s available on the open market. Once you’ve implemented the rates, how do you know if they’re still the best value and what do you do when they are not?
The key is monitoring. You need to be able to take advantage of lower rates available at your preferred hotels. You also need to know when hotels are closing out your rate making it challenging for you to meet your commitments. But monitoring alone is not enough. Analyzing that information and using it to measure the impact to your overall program is where the results lie.
And how can you react to emerging trends in your data as they happen? A changing market requires an evolution in your approach. It is not about just having the data, it is about how you map and react to changes the data reveals.
Lastly, you can achieve greater savings through targeted communications that influence traveler behavior. By creating an internal communications strategy that consistently engages and educates your travelers, you can better control market share and make changes before the opportunity is lost.
The hotel sourcing process is complex, but understanding the leverage you have makes it easier. To gain true savings, sourcing is just one component of an overall program management strategy that is constantly monitored and adapted. To accomplish this, it means consistently collecting the right data components, applying the requisite analysis, and taking appropriate action all year long because there is no true “off season.”