Expert insights

Is your 'small company' paying more for travel?

1 August 2016 by Leigh Cowlishaw

According to recent reports from IHG, business travellers from small companies believe they pay more for travel but it really shouldn’t be the case.

The research from IHG (Intercontinental Hotels Group), claims that business travellers from small companies also find travel more time-consuming and difficult to book compared with larger firms.

The research appears to have originated in the US where companies are not as heavily driven by travel policies as in the UK, and where big hotel chains tend to dominate. But smaller hotel properties hold their own in the UK and travel management companies (TMCs) work to remove the challenges referred to in IHG’s survey.

Find it hard to navigate through business travel?

Managing business travel organisations of any size can be a complex and sometimes daunting task but it really doesn’t have to be. Our own Navigator service brings together the essential elements of business travel so companies can quickly start managing travel spend smarter. Whether your travel is already managed by an agency or not, Navigator is designed to make things simple, adding value, saving time and reducing costs.

Added value

As well as saving travellers from having to pay for hotels, rail ticket and taxis up front, and file costly expenses claims, the ‘bill back’ service offered by some agencies has many other advantages; it helps prevent overspend as hotels can only invoice us for what is allowed within your travel policy, it provides the reassurance of accuracy as we check all invoices against the rates you’ve booked, it allows you to claim VAT back – where applicable - on our consolidated invoices and, the resulting reports allow you to scrutinise detail of additional spend such as hotel meals, drinks, telephone calls, internet access, parking, laundry and newspapers etc.

The added value of using specialists doesn’t stop there. The wear and tear that business travellers accumulate over time can impact business travellers’ personal life through loss of sleep, poor eating habits on the road and the backlog of work because they’ve been away from the office.

We work with leading worldwide, local and national providers to bring travellers a valuable selection of benefits, whether it’s an upgrade to make working on the go much easier, or a free fitness class to help travellers de-stress after a hard day. Encompassing benefits, knowledge and security, ‘Traveller First’ is our unique programme of added value benefits for business travellers to enhance their travel experience and reduce the stress they can face when they’re away from home.

Cost of travel

We understand that not everyone will appreciate the value of booking through a travel management company (TMC). This is probably truer of companies that don’t feel they have enough spend to negotiate preferable rates with supplier partners.

If your organisation doesn’t have enough spend in a location/on a route to negotiate a hotel rate or air fare, a good agency should have its own rates based on excellent supplier relationships and total booking numbers. Any customers without its own rates can take advantage of ours to make significant savings against standard market rates.

Capita Travel and Events also represents independent hotels and venues within our ‘Collection’ portfolio. This ‘small vendor’ initiative gives the properties a level playing field compared with global hotel chains and maximises opportunities for these suppliers and choice for travellers.

Take a look at some of our other tips on reducing transportation costs for companies that don’t have the volume of bookings or spend to negotiate directly with travel suppliers. 

Availability

Cost is important but it’s not all about the price! Availability is vital for business travel. A good rate is only an advantage if there are hotel rooms available to book at that rate. As hotels and apartments manage prices to fill rooms and make money, they can block rates from being booked on the GDS and sell rooms at higher prices or with different meal plans, a minimum number of nights or pre-pay only options - it’s what we refer to as yielding rates.

This is why Capita Travel and Events works with our partners to negotiate an ‘allocation’ of rooms with hotels, at pre-agreed rates. We hold over one million rooms on this type of allocation every year. It puts travellers back in control and helps guarantee availability at the prices agreed. It gives our customers, of all sizes, the confidence that they can save money. And, our supplier partners can more easily secure the business they need from business travellers.

Our technology displays rates and availability from multiple sources, along with allocation it means that travellers get to stay in the right place at the right price. It’s not all about big chain hotels either. In ‘5 reasons why small and independent hotels offer great value’, I explored the benefits of using small and independent suppliers. Big hotel chains may dominate US corporate travel, but smaller properties and groups hold their own in the UK and offer choice to business travel.

Take comfort from confidence

Findings of a research report published in America claimed that 20% of respondents who have booked a hotel online were ‘not sure’ if they had been scammed by the website. By using a recognised travel management expert, employers can give travellers the reassurance that they are booking via a specialist approved by their own company.

Using a TMC also means that employers can offer their people greater reassurances when it comes to the risks of travelling on business. Although alarming, terrorist attacks and epidemics are unlikely to impact the majority of business travellers – but they reinforce the importance of sensible risk mitigation and duty of care. 

Time to change

Employees who spend their time - their company’s most valuable resource - searching the internet to find examples of ‘cheap rates’, aren’t seeing the bigger picture.

Traveller wellbeing supported by agency traveller tracking tools, availability of hotel rooms at quoted prices, inclusion of additional costs (e.g. dinner, breakfast, parking), valuable management information to help make informed decisions - and more - are reasons why we’re able to help businesses of all sizes.

To end this article, where it started - small companies don’t have to pay more for business travel in the UK - we have it covered.

Interested? Let’s have a chat about your company’s travel, meetings and events objectives - from the stuff that keeps you awake at night, to the everyday experiences of your employees! Call us on 0330 390 0340, or submit the details below, with an idea of the times that suit you for a call.