How to...

Streamline your hotel programme

A UK-based corporate wanted to automate its hotel programme and identify savings but was lacking the resources to do so. Find out how it achieved its goals.

STEP 1: THE BACKGROUND. UK-based Imperial Tobacco Group (ITG) has a comprehensive worldwide travel programme covering more than 55 countries. It has global service standards and works with a single travel management company. The international tobacco giant was seeking a more disciplined approach to its hotel pro-gramme and was targeting both time and cost-savings on its existing processes.

STEP 2: THE CHALLENGE. ITG lacked the resources to manage its RFP process and its manual hotel sourcing procedures were consuming up to six months of the year. “We had a lot of ideas, but we didn’t have the resources on our own to thoroughly assess our hotel strategy or update and automate our hotel sourcing procedures,” says Julie Iliffe, Travel and Fleet Manager at Imperial Tobacco.

“We needed best-practice guidance from experts who understood the hotel market and had rolled out strategies that worked at other companies. We needed expert knowledge about what was working in other sectors,” she adds.

STEP 3: THE PROCESS. The company turned to Advito, the consulting branch of its long-term travel management company, BCD Travel, which meant it wasn’t dealing with an unknown entity. “We were comfortable sharing our information and data with them,” says Iliffe. Advito undertook a comprehensive analysis of ITG’s spend and volumes as well as its overall programme structure.

It became clear that the company’s greatest needs were increasing hotel programme efficiency while retaining local market influence over preferred hotel choices. “Our countries absolutely know the best accommodations in their own markets and we didn’t want to lose that input,” says Iliffe.

Cost-cutting was important to ITG, but the company also wanted Advito to prioritise local market specifics and requirements as it created the strategy and measured results. Advito helped make more hotel content available to ITG by looking beyond GDS channels, and it designed and implemented a global RFP process for preferred hotels.

It also implemented BCD’s TripSource platform to simplify bookings and provide enhanced data through DecisionSource, BCD’s business intelligence platform. In addition, Advito conducted audits to ensure ITG was getting the rates it had negotiated with hotels.

STEP 4: THE RESULT. Imperial Tobacco’s hotel programme has been fully modernised and automated. It now has access to more hotel content, enabling travellers to make the most appropriate choices.

ITG has also improved spend visibility and data, giving it a stronger negotiating position with hotels and helping it make more informed decisions. The changes have helped reduce annual hotel spend through time savings and cost avoidance, delivering six-figure savings annually. Up next for ITG is a decision on MICE consolidation.