With hotel chains becoming ever larger so does their negotiating power. For instance Marriott International’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts worries Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) who recently urged travel buyers to think how they can protect market share.They claim that in 14 of the world’s top 20 cities, the new hotel group Marriott, will manage properties that generate a third of all corporate travel hotel spend, rising to half in some cities. Also, CWT’s analysis suggests Marriott, more than any other chain, has chosen not to take part in the corporate travel RFP processes – RFP Request For Proposal, is an online marketplace that unites corporate travel buyers with hotels and chains to efficiently solicit, negotiate, finalize and audit their corporate transient hotel programs.
Scott Brennan, CWT’s executive vice president and head of global supplier management, said, “The implications are potentially huge. We think the new Marriott/Starwood group is going to have a lot of say in the market, which could alter the way corporate rooms are bought and sold. We don’t yet know the full impact and because the new group won’t be finalised in time for the negotiations this year, we won’t know until the 2017 negotiating season, in September next year.”
Marriott own 22% and Starwood 9% share of the non RFP market, due in part to strong loyalty programmes that attracts high spending frequent corporate guests. The hotels under the new larger Marriott group, do NOT subscribe to the heavily discounted RFP programmes. RFP giant Carlson Wagon Lits (CWT) is worried about loosing their market share.
CWT suggests corporate travel buyers take four steps now to start building their negotiating position:
1. Assess key markets: look at share by top chain within key cities or areas within a city, assess alternative hotels and potential savings
2. Prepare to have a more flexible approach for 2017, incorporating alternative suppliers as required
3. Adapt your travel policy to ensure compliance
4. Communicate to travellers, engage them in corporate objectives and create shared ownership in the results.
In response the larger hotel chains are likely to simply ignore them and continue to opt out of the process altogether. Relying instead on the powerful ‘Best Available Rates’ which are pre-bookable direct on their own hotel websites. Also they ensure that these rates are eligible for points for their own loyalty programmes with rewards that directly benefit the end user – the hotel guest.
by Andrew J Wood