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Global hotel solutions provider HRS has secured preferred supplier status from the UK’s Crown Commercial Service (CCS), which will see the company provide public sector travellers with access to its negotiated rates at properties around the world.
As part of the CCS Public Sector Travel and Venue Solutions Commercial Agreement, HRS’s shopping and booking portal will be the exclusive provider of accommodation to the new online solution for the UK public sector.
Speaking to BBT, Douglas Green, MD of UK and Ireland for HRS, commented: “This agreement is interesting on a number of levels. The original RFP proves that the public sector sees the value in online travel management and using technology in their policy. It also shows that the government wants to create efficiencies, which is why they went to market looking for a specialist solution.”
In accordance with the agreement, HRS will provide the CCS with a number of services, including the provision of CCS-negotiated rates and special discounts negotiated by HRS at a broad range of properties across the UK. CCS will also have access to a secure, central payment process that reduces fraud risk and ensures the correct rates are charged and paid to hotels, as well as 24/7 support for all travellers.
Green continued: “We’re seeing a real drive from all of our clients to get better value for money. The online model is one that is more predictable through data analysis and so steers cost savings.
“Our technology offering can help with savings too; nobody wants a change to a similar system, so if you can provide a good solution through technology that people will want to use it’s easier to implement.”
When asked about the specific challenges of cost savings and duty of care in the public sector, Green said: “One of the main reasons travellers book outside of policy is because they can’t find what they’re looking for. With an online solution such as ours that provides a great deal of choice in hotels and an integrated payment solution, there’s not really any reason for travellers to book off policy. For CCS, this means that the properties will be quality and also appropriate for government travellers, which has been a challenge for them in the past.
“Obviously, a big concern here is duty of care – the public sector wants to ensure travellers are booking on policy so they’re getting preferred rates and also so they know where they are.
“We’re making the solution available to the wider public sector and rolling out the solution in a controlled manner. The benefit we have is an online solution that we can deliver quickly, and we’ve learned a lot from our other big contracts such as Google and Siemens.
“We have the confidence and the knowledge to handle the challenge of working with such a large account.”
Green will moderate a session on influencing traveller behaviour at the BBT Forum –sponsored by HRS – at One Whitehall Place on 16 May. The panel includes Katrina Williams, deputy director and head of travel at Crown Commercial Service; Will Hasler, chairman of industry affairs at ITM; and Tony McGetrick, VP and director of sales and marketing for the UK and Ireland at BCD Travel.
HRS is also hosting its next Corporate Lodging Forum – which will cover simplifying business travel – on 7 June at the Soho Hotel in London. Corporate travel buyers can attend the event for free. Be sure to use the code BBT when registering at corporate-travel-forum.com/en-GB/uk