12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
21 November, London Hilton Metropole
Chris Day, strategic procurement manager for the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), has compliance levels in his hotel programme of 98-99%... so we've asked him for his advice on how to run a successful hotel programme:
1. Getting buy-in from the top is important.
If you can get communication throughout the business from the CEO, all the better. We tend to go for hearts and minds: as the procurement team, if we have got the right programme and can explain to travellers why they should use it, they will do so, and our compliance levels show that.
2.A preferred programme is ideal but make sure the rate you have negotiated is available for the number of room nights you need it. We had a good arrangement with a hotel near our London headquarters, but they would not give us enough rooms at the agreed rate and we suffered. This is particularly true of large cities, where conference hotels can pick and choose.
3.Getting MI (management information) is essential.
This can be done through mandating use of a self-booking tool [SBT], so all information is in one place on a consolidated invoice. Our SBT selects where we stay and what we spend, taking into account where we are going – within half a mile of the Belfast office, for example. Communication plays a big part in this – we did a roadshow with our TMC [travel management company] when we appointed them, to explain why it is important to book through the tool. And before you appoint a TMC, check out their SBT – it must be easy to use. It’s surprising how complicated some tools are.
4. Use your aggregate spend to negotiate better rates.
We have a £2 million annual spend, but we have joined with other charities through a procurement buying group to push it up to£10 million, which increases our clout.
5. If you have a maximum room rate per city it must be realistic for the destination, and giving a choice of properties increases compliance levels: a flexible approach doesn’t have to preclude the best rate. A number of hotels appear in a drop-down box on our SBT, so if travellers can get a deal that includes breakfast or a five-star hotel at the lowest rate, they can book that. Our booking tool also offers last-minute and other low rates, gathered through a screen-scraper.
6.Duty-of-care is essential practice for the business, but not always fully understood by travellers. We explained to them that if they book outside the booking tool and pay on their personal card, and then when they turn up at their hotel and there is no booking, this causes a problem for everyone. They need the 24-hour services of a TMC which understands the programme. This proved particularly valuable when Hurricane Sandy hit and we had travellers in the US – we knew we didn’t have to worry.
7.It's important to have the organisation's cost codes embedded in the booking tool, so travellers can select the correct one when they’re booking. And send a validated list to the TMC regularly, so it’s kept up to date. This ensures the codes appear next to each booking when the information comes through from the TMC.
Read a Q&A with Chris DayClick on the Tips & Advice tag below for more advice articles.
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