This week we welcome Bradley Davies, a Business Development Consultant from our London office, to contribute his industry insights.
As the season to be jolly approaches another season is already upon us. While we distribute our ”Requests For Proposal” and build up our Transient hotel rate programme’s, there is a (not so) secret meaning behind your RFP: Ready? Focus. Profit!
Whether you’re a hotel, an agency or a corporate travel planner, “RFP season” is upon us all. It’s that wonderful time of the year where you work around the clock, negotiate with seemingly endless numbers of prospective partners and try to save more – or earn more – than the previous year.
How are you going to get the best rates in your Transient Programme this year?
As a Business Development Consultant at Lanyon, I spend a lot of time speaking with people from every area within the travel industry. Regardless of your position, organisation type or exact requirements, there are 3 areas of vital urgency that are often overlooked:
The number of professionals who still use excel, email and phone to manage their RFP programme is stunning. Hoteliers may condemn me for saying it, but a “long term relationship” definitely does not guarantee you the best – or even good – rates. Yet I still speak to countless planners who refuse to move on to automated systems because they only approach hotels that they have developed an extensive relationship with.
Meanwhile, many hotels still manage their RFP’s in a similar fashion. Hoteliers who do not utilize an consolidated management and publishing solution: imagine how much easier your work life would be if all of your RFP’s and were organised, managed and stored in a single platform. You’d be able to respond faster, and in turn, more organizations would agree to your rates while the competition is still filtering through their inbox.
So, how can we address this?
It’s simple: Invest in an automated RFP platform. The money you save in paying overtime will cover the costs, not to mention what you will save – or gain – in annual hotel rates.
2. Business Intelligence
If you’re a travel manager – and this isn’t your very first travel programme – then you should have some intelligence available about your spend, requirements, distribution and allocation. For hotels, you should know how many nights you have historically dedicated to transient programmes, which organisations deliver and how much you can deliver.
First of all, it always pays to own your own information. If you use an automated RFP system, license the software so that you always have access and control of it. Then, use this information to align your requirements and goals with your yearly plan.
So, you’ve gathered as much information about your own programme as you can, but what type of data should you be looking for?
It never hurts to cross-reference your program with some extra intelligence – if you knew the average rate a hotel was offering to an organisation, would you be able to maintain confidence in the value of your deal? As a supplier, would you be able to make a more informed decision on how to win the business with an insight to your competition?
This information has power – and it only comes from an automated RFP system.
Organisations and hotels dedicate huge amounts of time and resources to set up a hotel programme that guarantees them the best rates. This, of course, is all well and good as long as there are methodologies in place to ensure that these programmes are compliant.
The potential for non-compliance in a transient program are almost endless: A traveler could book outside of your program, a typo might cause a rate to load incorrectly, an organisation might fall short of their room night guarantee, or seasonal variation might cause room rates at a hotel to drop below those negotiated.
So, how can we address non-compliance?
Whether you’re a hotel or an organization, run a post-RFP-season audit to confirm the rates in the GDS. This will help ensure visibility, compliance and integrity are maintained and trust is strengthened.
As an organisation, it always helps to run a ‘Squatter Audit’ to ensure there are no hotels outside of your preferred programme who have loaded rates – to enforce your internal programme and ensure accurate visibility of total room nights and their spread. You can also try mandating a company-wide booking policy that ensures your hotel directory is always given priority.
About the Author:
Bradley Davies is a Business Development Rep at Lanyon, assisting both organisations and hotels to analyse and improve internal processes. Originally from Sydney, Australia, Bradley has spent recent years working in hotels whilst traveling through Asia and Europe with a stint in North America.