“In business, you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.” Chester Karrass
If you’re empowered, authoritative, and a great communicator, almost anything in life can be negotiated. This includes even the trickiest elements of your business travel program – whether it’s airline, hotel or ground transportation suppliers. Negotiating these rates gives your travelers a better chance of staying within the budget, and gives you a better chance of lowering your overall travel spend. These are both endeavors your financial department will thank you for.
Why it’s important to negotiate corporate flights and hotels discounts
Airlines and hotels know that business travel is their bread and butter. That’s why business travelers get access to more perks and value than leisure travelers. They spend more money and travel more often, which is fuel for opportunity when it comes time to negotiate. These discounted rates can save your company an enormous amount on travel.
What are the benefits of negotiating corporate flights and hotels?
Corporate rates may typically start at ten percent off the regularly published rate (or rack rates) for hotels and airlines. In exchange for the agreed discount, the hotel and airline gains more regular and potentially loyal customers, as well as potential referral business. Of course, corporate rate discounts can go far beyond the basic ten percent starting point. They can include hotel room amenities, better airline class options, free checked luggage and free wifi.
And remember, you don't need to be a big corporation to get a corporate rate. It’s all about knowing your business travel program and being willing to pick up the phone and talk to a supplier about their rates. After your extensive preparation and negotiation your travelers can book corporate flights and hotels knowing they’re getting the best price and accommodations for their travel.
What are the challenges of negotiating corporate flights and hotels?
Negotiating rates with airlines and hotels is becoming an increasingly difficult proposition. Airlines and hotel chains are consolidating, taxes and oil prices are increasing and limiting discounts to protect their always-fragile bottom lines. To get an airline or hotel to pick up the phone for negotiations, you must demonstrate travel volume and have the ability to control and shift that to a preferred supplier.
Once you have that foundation, set realistic goals for negotiations based on the scope of your travel program. If you are inexperienced with these negotiations, you might need to tap knowledgeable consultants such as your travel management company for their expertise.
What kind of discounts on booking corporate flights and hotels can you expect?
So, what types of fees can you negotiate with airlines and hotels? You will be surprised to find out that there are quite a lot.
Luggage fees and expenses associated with overhead space
Upgrades and changes
Free early check-in
Better in-room amenities
Meals, like a complimentary breakfast
Parking or valet service
The best ways to book corporate flights and hotels
Okay, so now you know the benefits and challenges of negotiating corporate airlines and hotels – how do you actually do it?
Obtain experienced opinions
Talk to C-level executives of the company and get a vision of what they expect from partnerships with your suppliers. This provides you with a good initial interpretation on suitable strategies. Talk to your fellow business travel managers and find out what strategies and tactics have worked for them. You can even obtain advice and guidance from travel specific consultants.
Analyze existing data
Analyzing company financials and past travel programs is essential for identifying patterns and opportunities. Look at spending trends – most commonly traveled city pairs, most popular hotels and airlines are just a few places to start. Also consider traveler requests and complaints, and superfluous services your travelers aren’t using. These will all help you target areas for improvement and negotiation.
Forecast your future travel volume
The value of forecasting your future volume is to get better rates. It represents a bigger profit for airlines and hotels - and consequently, bigger discounts for you.
Know your traveler
Similar to understanding the company’s needs, identifying specific traveler demands will help you improve your business travel program. Arrange a discussion between members of different departments – those that are responsible for managing the travel, operations and finances of your travel program. And of course, you need to talk to your most frequent travelers – finding out how they book corporate flights and hotels is invaluable information for your negotiations.
Know the airline or hotel
Ensure sure you have a rational understanding of the airline or hotel you’re dealing with so you can strategize effectively. In short, there are aspects that differ for airlines and hotels, not only in relationship to size but other characteristics that you can use as part of your argument for greater discounts. For example, some airlines don’t have business class; some airlines have higher fees for checked baggage. Further, in order to support sustainability, some routes are more attractive. Some hotels will be willing to discount for shoulder seasons and in less popular cities.
Pay attention to the details
The devil is in the detail, as they say. Ancillary services such as Fast Track security, onboard meals, priority boarding, early check-in, wifi costs and parking or valet are important elements for you to consider as part of your travel program. Whether your travelers have special requirements or none at all, review common services to ensure you’re not signing up for any additional costs. When it comes to how your travelers’ book corporate flights and hotels, you want to make sure you cover all the details.
It’s essential that you view your preferred suppliers as long-term business partners. The relationship needs to benefit you and your chosen airlines and hotels. If you’ve negotiated effectively, your travelers will love the suppliers you use and you’ll hit your goal of saving your company money on travel.
Booking Tools Offer Additional Savings & Solutions
Deem’s solutions are designed for the way employees work and travel, and the way companies apply policy and control costs. Deem is built to help employees be more productive, solve problems on the fly, and focus on the job. Deem’s powerful platform allows business travel managers to customize their travel program and service their travelers with ease.
The business world has never been more mobile than it is today. At Deem, we create products that give employees everything they need to make better travel decisions, wherever they are. With the most intuitive, secure, and powerful solutions, your team will save you money, stay connected, and get more done. And when employees have access to the tools they love, they’re happier and more engaged. That’s why more businesses are embracing Deem.
Want to see for yourself how Deem can help you service your travelers with negotiated rates? Request a demo today.