Industry insider calls for end to 'on request' bookings

Process for booking hotels for business travellers must be improved, expert suggests
Phone:+45 4363 2266

Successful Travel Management Companies (TMCs) need to be able to make hotel bookings quickly and react instantaneously when itineraries change, but what if the companies you are dealing with have outdated systems? 

On request bookings

If a room is advertised as booking 'on request', the agent needs to send an enquiry to the host of the property to check if there is availability for their stay. If the accommodation is available, the booking request can be sent and is secured once the recipient has received and confirmed it.

Clearly this is not an efficient way to run a business, and it seems slightly archaic in an age when consumers can so easily make instant bookings online.

It is an issue that has been highlighted by managing director for HRS, Jon West. In an article for Buying Business Travel, Mr West suggests that corporate bookers should have the same freedom as individuals when finding suitable accommodation.

He explained: "In this day and age, business travellers should have access to real-time availability and bookability, as well as in-depth content. However, many suppliers are still providing an on request service, which often compromises business travellers' booking choices."

When problems arise

Issues arise with on request bookings when the TMC has to wait to receive booking confirmation, as the price may have changed in the intervening period, or the room may no longer be available. When this happens, the entire process has to be repeated, costing both time and money.

As an effective TMC, it is important that you realise the potential limitations of dealing with a Global Distribution System (GDS) to make bookings.

Rather than be at the mercy of a GDS network, it pays to make enquiries offline too, in order to secure the best service for your clients.

Software that doesn't rely on GDS data

A system like ProCon Solution's ProTAS mid-back office solution automates all the data processing once a booking has been made, which speeds up productivity by as much as a third.

While this doesn't sort the issue of delays due to on request bookings, the software is flexible and can handle bookings from non-GDS sources. This gives you more flexibility as a TMC to search for and make bookings through other channels.

Choosing your GDS wisely

In addition to making booking enquiries directly, it may also help to check whether your GDS uses HRS content, as it can improve bookability for them and that's ultimately good news for you and your clients.

Hotel bookings are very important to business travellers

In a 2014 report published by Amadeus and the Guild of Travel Management Companies entitled Business Travel Insights: Hotels 360, booking a hotel was listed as the first priority among business travellers. Some 37 per cent put it at the top of their list, ahead of booking a flight (34 per cent).

How TMCs can add value

According to the report, some 44 per cent of respondents said the main way TMCs added value to their booking process was by gaining preferential and negotiated rates on corporate travel.

Despite this apparent confidence in a TMC's ability to get the best deal, some 69 per cent admitted to comparing rates outside of their corporate travel system in an attempt to see if they are getting the best deal.

The report suggests that TMCs need to improve the "quality and quantity" of hotel information they receive through their corporate booking systems. 

It also suggests that it is worth showing clients exactly what they are getting for their negotiated rate, so they can see the value the service is adding, or at the very least compare prices like for like. 

ProCon Solution A/S
Herstedøstervej 27-29
DK-2620 Albertslund
Phone: +45 4363 2266