It can be quite a daunting task asking assistants to negotiate corporate rates with hotels. It is obviously a lot easier booking hotels either through a 3rd party website like booking.com or just accepting the hotel’s rack rate. But assistants can save their organisations a lot of money if they negotiate a special rate with local hotels, particularly if many of their colleagues or clients stay overnight.
If your organisation uses a corporate travel agent you might be contractually obliged to use their services for overseas travel but not necessarily for hotels in or near your office. Again this is worth checking because you might be able to negotiate a better rate than your travel agent (they generally charge hotels commission for confirmed bookings which makes can increase the price of the hotel room). Here are my tips for negotiating corporate rates with local hotels.
1. Work with other assistants in your organisation
There is always power in numbers so it is well worth speaking to the other assistants in your firm to find out which hotels they book. If you are all booking the same hotel it makes sense that you work together to negotiate a rate for your entire firm. Going to the hotel with more nights will increase your chances of getting a good corporate rate.
2. Go to more than one hotel
With the newfound information you have gathered from the other assistants take your number of nights to a few hotels in your area. The corporate rate will be based on your projected stay not a guaranteed promise of actually staying at that hotel. It is better if you have a favoured hotel that you use more often because you will be able to negotiate a better deal the following year. But if you need a lot of hotel rooms and your preferred supplier is fully booked it is good to know you have a few corporate rates elsewhere.
3. Do still check the 3rd party websites
It will be hard for you to negotiate a rate along the same lines as booking.com or hotels.com. They have huge buying powers so will occasionally have a better rate on their website than the corporate rate you have negotiated. It is always worth double-checking before you confirm the booking. I like to use skyscanner.net for a hotel search as it gives you an overview of lots of different discount hotel websites.
4. Visit with the hotel’s sales team
Make an appointment to come into the hotel to meet with the sales team and also have a look at the facilities and different rooms. It is good to know what the hotel rooms look like, the facilities and the general feel of the place. Also it is helpful to have a contact at the hotel if you need to book any last minute rooms or need a favour. A few years ago a new hotel opened just around the corner from my office in London. All of the organisation’s assistants had a show around and we also had lunch. Remember you are in a good position to negotiate if you are local – you could potentially bring that hotel a lot of business.
5. Try serviced apartments too
Serviced apartments can save organisations thousands of pounds especially when you block book the apartments. Serviced apartments have become much more similar to hotels now in terms of quality, comfort and amenities. Obviously they tend to be a bit bigger than hotel rooms too. The added benefit of having a kitchen can again save organisations a fair amount of money that might otherwise have been spent in restaurants. It is well worth speaking to your local service apartment provider for a corporate rate.