ABC Global Services has released five strategies that travel professionals can leverage to get the best value when booking hotels for their clients.
"Today's travel advisors have comprehensive resources for booking hotel rooms to help them meet their travelers' specific needs and exceed their expectations, while increasing their own revenue opportunities," said Beverlee Patterson, president, ABC Global Services. "These include access to such resources as an innovative booking engine, or a dynamic hotel program providing added amenities. The trend for travelers to book their own hotels online has shifted and many of them are returning to their travel advisors to get this added value along with the personalized attention and customer service that they have sorely missed."
To help travel advisors provide the greatest value to their clients, following are five best practices for booking hotels during the holiday season and beyond:
• Search for multiple rates. By using a booking engine that offers multiple rate options in one tool -- GDS, discount rooms from online travel agencies, wholesalers, and net rate inventory -- you can find the best value for your clients. According to Patterson, "You don't always know which inventory will provide the best rate, so it's important to have multiple options in one database, right at your fingertips. Finding overall value based on your travelers' specific needs is key since, for example, having the flexibility to make changes without any penalties may be more important to your client than getting the lowest rate."
• Look for perks and amenities. Travelers appreciate complimentary, value-added benefits, such as free breakfast, airport transportation, guaranteed upgrades and free Internet access. These amenities add to the overall value of the service you provide. For example, a hotel that offers breakfast can be a better value for your travelers than a lower-priced hotel without this amenity.
• Work with the pros to get rooms in sold-out situations. By working with a hotel services provider, you can often still find rooms for your clients even when hotels are "sold out." Some services providers can even provide just the type of rooms your clients want, such as close proximity to an event or convention, or at a specific hotel.
• Keep your travelers well informed and safe. It is important to keep your clients well informed about the potential impact of weather or security issues around the world that could impact their travel. Establish a communication system with your travelers that provide them with up-to-date information that might impact their itineraries, before and during their trips.
• Strategically seek good deals for clients. If your clients have flexibility, time-sensitive hotel promotions offer a great opportunity to get last-minute deals, often at steeply discounted rates. Also consider secondary markets, where your clients can sometimes enjoy lower rates as well as unexpected perks by going off the beaten path. And do not forget that it is worthwhile to consider booking popular destinations during shoulder season, to get the benefit of better rates and special amenities offered during off-peak-season times.