Although the availability of alternative accommodation is soaring, it remains a small element of corporate travel programmes. So, what is it that stands in the way of property operators and lucrative agreements with the corporate travel sector?
Complicated supply chain
The alternative accommodation sector, both serviced and short-term rentals, is awash with intermediaries, which in the nascent years of the sector made a lot of sense. The lack of cohesive technology has proved challenging for operators and buyers alike, resulting in the availability of properties through normal corporate booking channels being disparate and fragmented. For harried corporate bookers, the use of intermediaries allowed them to access the benefits of these properties without the hassle of finding them or filtering through to what they needed.
However, this comes at a price to both operators and buyers. Literally. The longer the booking supply chain, the greater number of pockets to feed and the further away the end user becomes from the accommodation operator. Either more cost gets added or operator profit margins get squeezed. In fact, our research shows that up to 20 per cent of cost could be eradicated were buyers to liaise with properties directly and remove the reliance on middlemen.
Luckily, with the sector becoming far more established – plus the availability of one-stop procurement platforms such as myo – it’s become much easier to remove these extra costs and layers.
Outdated distribution platforms
Don’t underestimate the appeal of ease when it comes to the decisions made by corporate bookers. Though many travel managers are well aware of the advantages that come with alternative accommodation options – cost, flexibility, location and variety, to name but a few – the lack of efficient online booking channels can create an unwelcome headache.
The same goes for TMCs, tasked with managing high volumes of corporate travel bookings, simplicity and accessibility is paramount and they require a convenient, seamless way to go about it.
Operators should be considering smart ways to integrate their properties into the most effective distribution channels to avoid being overlooked. With smarter property management systems and connectivity, it has never been simpler to reach the end booker and create direct booking opportunities.
Greater reassurance required
Never has duty of care been higher on the agenda for corporate travel than it is now.
Alternative accommodation has so much to offer by way of peace of mind: contained, private properties; few or no communal areas; self-catering facilities that allow travellers to avoid busy restaurants; larger footprint improving the wellbeing of the end user. The problem? The sector still labours under the perception from corporate bookers that it has less transparency and less awareness of its standards, which is why hotels can often seem like a safer bet.
Demonstrating not only safety and security measures are in place and robust, but greater acceptance of sustainable practises and demonstration of reducing the impact of a guest’s stay on the planet should be high on the agenda. Increasingly, buyers are focusing on these credentials, so it is imperative to put in place processes to ensure you are part of their accommodation programme.
Lack of differentiation
Leading us nicely onto the fourth major challenge the sector faces: how can a corporate booker distinguish those properties that are best in class − and how can they be assured that they’re only using those properties with scrupulous safety standards? A direct operator-booker relationship would go a long way here, with travel managers or TMCs able to verify credentials and build relationships with operators based on reliability and consistency of meeting those standards set.
At mysa, we also believe there’s scope for operators to go one step further when it comes to differentiating themselves, and their property portfolios, from a vast market. With a mysaSure audit, operators can create a shortcut for corporate bookers, one that communicates, at a glance, that their record on quality, safety and security is industry leading.
At mysa, our technology can help alternative accommodation operators get their properties in front of more corporate bookers and TMCs. If you’d like to know more about how we can help you, please get in touch with us here.