The Business Perspective
Our system gives travellers the freedom to choose their own hotel, providing it is within policy, which is important for frequent travellers. The organisation benefits from having control over spend and reporting without having individual line managers having to authorise every trip.
We have a dedicated booking portal through which bookings are made. Users have to be registered to use the system. We can enable or disable different brands of hotel from the system or limit pre-paid rates (for example). We can also load our own negotiated rates if there are travel hotspots. The system shows rates from all hotels connected to the travel agents network as well as Laterooms, Expedia, Premier Inn and Travelodge (see below).
We can define the travel policy by country and then vary that policy with exception areas which can be defined down to a square mile if necessary (useful to allow specific towns or properties a variable policy). Bookers can load their own payment cards to pre-authorise their room and then pay on departure themselves and claim through your expense system. Alternatively we offer a billback service, where hotels are paid through our automated payment system and we provide receipts and reports on spend.
We can report by traveller, department, hotel chain, paid type.
We also provide a business Trainline rail booking service which benefits from the same payment system and reporting.
We describe it as a booking system managed by real people with common sense. And it works.
How it works
Hotels sell their bedrooms through a number of different channels - through their own reservation system directly (centrally or at the hotel), in group bookings, through booking agents (or travel agents) via the GDS (Global Distribution System) or through online booking agents and bed banks (also via GDS).
Some of the online providers are bed banks - they agree to sell a guaranteed number of rooms on behalf of a hotel or group, but they set their own rates and claim high rates of commission (these include Booking.com, Expedia and SecretHotels.com for example). Often we see these cheap rates as pre-paid or non-cancellable - we try to hide these rates because, although they are cheap, there is no flexibility on the cancellation policy and it generally pays not to use them for business where plans change all too often.
Most of the other rates online are standard via the various GDS systems. There are lots of online rate 'aggregators' providing rates from across different providers for the same hotel (laterooms.com, expedia.com and others). Our system works in the same way. We enable it to view rates from different providers - Sabre for GDS shows rates directly from the hotels, then you will see rates from LateRooms and Expedia for comparison.
Some chains, including Premier Inn and Travelodge don't sell through the GDS at all, so we access their booking system directly.
Some smaller independent hotels and B&Bs don't use GDS either. If we know they exist, they will show up in the results but you might not see live rate or availability information - you can make a booking, but we have to manually talk to the hotel before we can confirm it.
A Note About Rates
Rates for bedrooms change a lot, every day in some cases. Every hotel wants to get the maximum amount of money they can for their beds on any night. They want the hotel full but they also want the maximum revenue for the bedrooms. It's a balancing act and often they will do what airlines do - they will sell in advance at cheaper rates until they fill a percentage of the hotel, then they increase the rate. If you book on the day, you will pay the highest rates.
If there is a sporting event, an exhibition, concert or something happening nearby, the hotel knows that it can charge more and will do. Similarly, a business hotel in a business district will heavily discount rooms at the weekend.
Finally, buying groups of rooms does not guarantee a lower rate - often the opposite is true - the hotel will not want to sell a large block of their inventory at a discount when they know that they will be able to sell them later for more - it's our job to negotiate and manage the relationship with the hotels to get the best possible price for the right number of rooms - sometimes it pays to split a group across more than one hotel for example.
If you are struggling to get a rate or believe that you have found a better rate yourself, get in touch with us on 0844 800 8802.