IS NOW THE TIME TO CHANGE?

Spring has finally sprung, it’s normally time for spring cleaning at home to satisfy our need for a fresh start. So, it is only natural that we look at our work lives and as the green shoots of recovery start to emerge we consider sweeping out the ways of the past for something new. But is now the right time to change when it comes to your hotel programme?

We talked recently in depth about this very topic with a client of FESTIVE ROAD. Like many in the industry they are using this time to reflect on their hotel programme of the past and consider if there’s a better way for the future, and we know from discussions with other buyers that they aren’t alone.

The traditional Hotel RFP process that few love and many bemoan, is time consuming, and often found to not meet organisational needs.  It uses rear view mirror data which is often lacking. When you consider most companies still don’t have 100% visibility for their organisation’s lodging needs, and add to this the fact that booked data often does not reflect the actual trip data, meals or ancillary costs can be incorrectly classified, then a hotel sourcing event can be a rich melting pot of chaos! The hotels are none the wiser either and the numbers never agreed. Getting true accurate data is the Holy Grail very few have found.

With travel consumption and hotel occupancy at an all-time low, doesn’t that make now the perfect time to try something new? An opportunity to break out of the old ways and stop the endless staring at spreadsheet hotel matching.

Yes, and No! As a hotel professional now empowered with the FESTIVE ROAD ethos of driving change, here is my advice.

Know your need

BEFORE you start thinking about whether and how you should source, start simple and broad. Look at your organisation and the changes it is presently experiencing.  And then answer the fundamental questions first; what are our new needs, what’s out there now and what is best for us?

The programme you need now might not be the programme you need in 12 months. Your business may not be allowing people to travel or if they do put more controls in place for their safety. A lot of your first travel bookings may be people travelling internally to assess offices or just meet their teams. Remote working may stimulate a new need for day rooms, or longer trips may mean a heightened need for apartments. The potential options for a revised hotel programme are plentiful!

So, engage with your users and understand what travel consumption will actually look like for the short term.

Know your drivers

Once you understand these new needs you can turn to the overall organisation drivers to frame what that consumption will look like when it comes to supplier negotiations.

Is your company purely focused on reducing cost, or is there a drive to improve employee experience, focus on traveller wellbeing and safety or meet demanding new sustainability targets?

Ensuring that your outline for a new demand meets both business line needs and senior leadership objectives will make your efforts aligned and more effective.  And only once you know your future customer demand and future company priorities can you decide what the right hotel programme sourcing strategy will be.

Know your market

Then it’s time to overlay the external view of changing market conditions, supplier strategies and new entrants. The pandemic has created pressures on service, from a demand point of view, but also in how companies are managing resource.

You need to understand how your regular suppliers are adapting, and not just what it says on shiny marketing collateral.

You need to understand distribution and retailing changes to ensure whatever you source is going to be delivered in the most optimum way.

You need to understand what new options there are – new products with existing providers (and not those which are live now, but those in development) and new companies who are servicing the new needs.

Only once you have completed these three things can you determine the right sourcing strategy for you.

You might ask yourself what are the options? What are the different approaches organisations take? You can read more about them in my next blog.

Written by Sandra Deregoski, FESTIVE ROAD, UK