By Natasha Samuel, Senior manager, Product marketing
The pandemic forced many businesses to re-evaluate how they’ll manage the cost of business travel in the future. Egencia surveyed travel managers in June 2020, and found that up to 20% of them are concerned about increased travel budget constraints.
We’re excited to announce that Egencia Savings Finder for Hotel is available for all our customers across the globe. Our goal is to help customers to prepare for a return to travel where budgets may be tighter and incremental savings will help to optimise their business travel spend.
We all know what searching for the perfect hotel room is like, whether it’s for business or leisure. When I was booking travel and searching for hotels for my holiday, I had to stay within my budget, just like how some corporate travel programmes have hotel rate caps for business travel.
It wasn’t long after I'd booked my room that I noticed a reduced nightly rate for a premium room that was originally out of my budget. Really disappointing. If the reduced premium room was available when I booked, I would have upgraded and lived like a rock star on an exotic island for the week. But who has the time to watch rates, cancel reservations and rebook, especially when travelling for work? But that was 2019. Now that it’s 2020, things have changed in the world of booking and corporate travel management companies (TMCs).
Some people may think that these kinds of price fluctuation only occur when booking personal travel. Not exactly. Hotel rates increase and decrease after booking all the time. Over the years, there have been times when the corporate travel bookings and rates that my colleagues got for the same hotel that I booked were different than what I paid. Why is that?
You’ve probably seen hotels run flash sales, special rates for groups or package deals when you book travel. Hotels, like many businesses, work hard to deliver a great customer experience while also finding ways to maximise their revenue. Filling rooms in a competitive market can be challenging. It’s a fundamental part of their business and is often managed with occupancy forecasts, popularity pricing based on high- and low-season rates and, in some cases, day-to-week rates.
If the hotel hasn’t filled a room, the bottom line is impacted. This also means that the price that you pay today may change tomorrow—and that price can go up or down. It’s the fundamental basics of supply and demand.
How do our business travel management solutions help customers to take advantage of these rollercoaster rates?
In 2019, the Egencia data science and product management teams studied hotel price fluctuations to determine if there was potential to deliver incremental savings for our customers by monitoring the prices from initial booking to just prior to check-in.
The teams analysed hundreds of thousands of hotel bookings to build the machine learning (ML) model for our latest travel technology innovation, Egencia Savings Finder for Hotel. They determined that there was an opportunity to re-shop at least 9% of hotel bookings and rebook them at a lower rate.
What does this mean for our customers? Corporate travel savings without compromise.
To validate the research and ML model, Egencia announced a pilot with 20 US and Canadian customers in December 2019 that was expanded to more than 20 customers in France, Germany, Sweden, the UK and Denmark. During the pilot, customers realised an average of $37 USD for each optimised hotel booking.
How does the travel platform work?
The Egencia model predicts the likelihood that your hotel booking can be optimised, starting at a minimum price decrease of $10 USD. That’s a start—there’s no cap on the savings that we can deliver. From the day after booking until just before check-in, Savings Finder for Hotel will continually monitor the room price in real time to look for additional savings, and will automatically rebook the lower rate once it finds the greatest possible cost savings.
This booking process is simple and fully automated from start to finish, and delivers a frictionless experience for corporate travellers and arrangers. It doesn’t matter whether the booking is made with our online booking tool, our mobile app or with one of our business travel consultants—we’re always on the lookout for savings opportunities. Once a lower rate has been identified, the room is automatically rebooked, business travellers get an email confirmation on how much was saved and the itinerary gets updated.
Travel managers have access to a dashboard in Egencia Analytics Studio to help track savings and optimisations, in addition to reports on travel policy compliance and expense management.
Booking solutions that provide more value to our customers
Egencia provides customers access to more than 650,000 properties in 30,000 cities around the world. With our innovative ML-based search, sort and re-shopping options, travellers and arrangers no longer have to waste time on comparison shopping for the best deal or options that meet their preferences saved in their traveller profile, like booking history or hotels that are popular with colleagues.
Using our corporate travel booking tools, Egencia Smart Mix and Egencia Savings Finder for Hotel, customers can find their preferred hotels more quickly and save money at the same time. Smart Mix provides our customers with the most relevant options up front. This means that hotel bookings take less than four minutes, saving time so that people can get back to work. By looking at travellers’ preferences, booking histories and hotels that are popular with their co-workers, 79 per cent of hotel bookings that are made with Egencia are selected from the top seven hotels in the search results.
By combining Savings Finder for Hotel and Savings Finder for Air, customers can save as we are monitoring, rebooking and delivering savings on flight and hotel bookings.
You also gain peace of mind, because all the hotels that are re-shopped and rebooked by Savings Finder for Hotel are visible in the Egencia Travel Tracker in case you need to locate your travellers. We want to ensure that while we’re helping you to optimise your travel budget, you don’t need to worry about sacrificing safety. And our travel managers find that increased savings and the decrease in manual bookings and updates allows them to focus on their business travellers.