By Brent Blake, President, Acendas Travel
It’s deja vu all over again.
At this time last year, businesses and travel management companies were facing uncertainty as they planned hotel programs for 2021. In response, most of the contractual arrangements were rolled over by mutual agreement between properties and businesses.
The presence of vaccines and the upsurge in travel beginning in late spring, earlier this year, gave us hope that some sense of normal and stability would be returning. But the rise of the Delta variant, along with staffing and supply issues in the hospitality industry put us in a similar situation and asking the same question: “What should we do regarding hotel agreements for 2022?”
The inclination might be to just roll over the contracts another year. For some, that might be appropriate. However, given that so much has changed over the past two years, it is likely worth your time to enact an RFP process for the properties you will utilize.
First, an RFP negotiation is more than just an issue of rates. It offers a means to gather information on the changes in the operations and services hotels will be offering based on the changes made over the past two years:
- Have chains added or subtracted properties from the locations where you will be conducting business?
- Have properties added or subtracted services or amenities that will affect your ability to do business such as free WiFi, business office, breakfast, etc.
- Are there black out dates or seasonality in the rate structure?
- What health and safety procedures have been put in place for your travelers?
- What pricing options exist to ensure that your company gets the best rates?
These are just a few of the considerations you might want to take into account when embarking on an RFP. Certainly it is understandable that your staffing and those of hotels might not be at optimal levels. Perhaps you will want to reduce the number of properties you consider or implement your RFP process in waves to make sure both parties can give the necessary time.
In addition, you will want to make the travel experience the best it can be for your associates, so developing a positive and productive relationship with hotels is vital. I encourage companies to look at the value of a long-term relationship in reaching an agreement that is a win-win.
Lastly, the RFP is not a document to sign and file away. The RFP is a process that should include the element of ongoing review and monitoring. It is important that what you agreed to is being delivered. If your needs are not being met, document it and address it.
Going through the RFP can be a burden. But the risk of not doing one can be severe. It’s a new world out there and it would behoove you to take action to ensure your company and travelers are protected.