As you wrestle with the grown-up challenges of negotiating hotel agreements and other aspects of managing corporate travel, consider a fresh—even youthful—approach. Employ some simple things you learned as a kid to achieve better supplier deals, boost program performance and increase traveler satisfaction.
- Play nicely with others. We all heard that on the playground; it works at the negotiating table, too. Hammering out deals with hotel suppliers can be complex and sometimes tense. That’s when it’s important to remember success isn’t one-sided. Stay friendly and professional, and look for common ground. Fruitful negotiations require strategic skill, but they also boil down to the simple give and take you learned when you were a kid.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep refuels us so we can go full speed again. That was true when we were kids, and it’s still true today. Hotels play a critical role in that dynamic. They should be places where travelers can restore energy and be productive. So, while it’s important to focus on savings and efficiency, don’t neglect traveler comfort when you’re negotiating with hotel suppliers. A quiet room in a convenient location enhanced with “soft” benefits like free WiFi, breakfast or gym access can make life on the road easier for your travelers. They’ll be rested and ready to seize the day.
- Keep your promises. As a child, you learned the importance of doing what you said you would do. It’s how you earned trust from friends and family, and it’s how you figured out whom you could trust. Keeping promises and holding others accountable for the promises they’ve made are essential for adults, too. When it comes to making deals with hotel suppliers, be clear about your needs and expectations; use data to add transparency to the negotiating process; deliver on your commitments; and use strategies like audits to verify hoteliers are holding up their end of the bargain, too.
- Help people belong. Travelers make out-of-program hotel bookings when they aren’t engaged in their corporate program and don’t fully understand its value. The solution is as simple as child’s play: Make travelers feel welcome and included, and explain why staying in program is good for them and the company. Build a community that invites travelers’ feedback, seeks their input, encourages them to connect with one another and responds to their needs. Treating travelers with care and respect; helping them understand your program’s benefits; and engaging them as members of your travel community will win them over.
Try these simple strategies from childhood to take the complexity out of managing your corporate travel program.
Want more ideas for improving your hotel program? Check out ways to capture greater savings by breaking the hotel procurement cycle.