Complex hotel requests can be dealt with much more easily when you have the right tools, says Peter Waters, director, hotel distribution of Amadeus
Last week, Henry Trask called his travel booker with a request. “I need to go to Brazil,” he said, naming a little-known town near a large biomass plant. “The trip is for business, so I’ll need to be within a 10 minute drive from the plant. Also, my wife is planning to join me for the weekend, so can you get a hotel with fun things to do? And can you get me a pre-paid room?”
Many agents would not be thrilled to get such a call. Henry, like Goldilocks and her search for the perfect bowl of porridge, wants something extremely specific. Hotels next to large industrial sites rarely cater for tourists. Henry’s request for a pre-paid option adds another layer of complexity.
Such a hotel will exist, but searching for it is no easy task for a busy booker. It’s possible that the only suitable hotels in the area will be smaller, independent properties with unsophisticated websites. These hotels are also unlikely to be bookable via the indirect channel, meaning that our busy booker will instead have to ring up and make the reservation over the phone, and manually complete the itinerary rather than relying on auto-complete.
What this comes down to is a matter of convenience. Henry knows what’s convenient for him. However, it’s not convenient for the booker. It’s this gap between a traveller’s convenience and the booker’s convenience that leaves room for improvement.
Henry’s needs are partly hard to meet because they are new needs. Brazil, as a Bric economy, is a rising destination. His request for a hotel that provides tourist entertainment is part of a new trend: the combination of business travel and leisure travel (‘bleisure’). Pre-paid content is also a loaded term, as there are many different payment systems. Henry may also be working for a large corporation and booking his travel via a Travel Management Company, meaning that the TMC will undoubtedly need to meet both Henry’s personal requirements and their Service Level Agreement (SLA) terms.
It’s clear that travellers will not change their needs to make bookers’ lives easier – so bookers need to stay one step ahead of the game.
They can do this by figuring out how to quickly and effectively search for the right room at the right rate. Doing so will unlock profitability for the booker in multiple ways. Not only will they save time and better meet their clients’ needs, they will also find it easier to comply with any SLAs they have with clients.
Bookers can’t do this by themselves – they need access to a multitude of content that can be searched in multiple ways, plugging in independent hotels so they can be compared alongside the big chains. When booking a hotel for someone like Henry, an agent needs to be able to search several different options via the indirect channel, not just one: searching by rate, star rating, amenities, payment methods, and so on.
Henry’s booker found that hotel for Henry, by the way – but if he’d been using new tools, he would have found it far more efficiently.