Is it time to outsource tenders in serviced accommodation?

Frustrating. Confusing. Inefficient. Just a few of the adjectives already used by travel managers to explain the annual negotiations that surround a Request for Proposal (RFP) for their corporate accommodation programme. Now with efforts to minimise the risk of COVID-19 set to top the agenda, the scrutiny on providers is set to increase substantially.

Each year as travel managers limber up to tackle the RFP process, there are calls for simplification, greater end-to-end transparency and savings. The long term impact of travel amid COVID-19 will only add to this wish list, with safety set to take over the top spot from cost savings for the foreseeable future. The sheer effort involved, even in normal circumstances, is often only compounded by suppliers that simply don’t appreciate the considerable effort required to manage the process. With that effort intensified and each property’s processes scrutinised, suppliers need to ensure now, more than ever supportive participation.

For serviced accommodation that administrative headache is only worse. Rapid growth in the sector is often undermined by a lack of transparency adding to confusion, complexity and hours upon hours consumed in finding the right provider. It is a situation that leads many managers to either put trust in a third party or absorb serviced accommodation into a broader hotel offer, with any further focus on costings dismissed.

Now is the opportune moment for travel managers to consider a different approach. With COVID-19 putting a temporary pause on business travel, minds will inevitably turn to rethinking strategies and systems to make life easier when normality returns. And considering the significant benefits of a standalone RFP for serviced accommodation should be one area of focus. Armed with comprehensive knowledge, it is possible to ensure each property is safe for your employees and make significant savings, particularly when negotiating directly with suppliers.

But how can managers explore this without adding to the stress and frustration that surrounds existing RFPs? Enter outsourcing.

The benefits of outsourcing in business travel are gaining profile more broadly, offering a simpler, clearer and often more cost-effective approach to negotiating the best deal for a business. And when it comes to negotiations for serviced accommodation, this approach comes with a variety of benefits.

At a glance, they include:

Expertise: Serviced accommodation remains dogged by a complex and fragmented structure and lack of consistent standards. Keeping abreast of the sector and its fluctuating trends is a full-time job and requires an expert. Outsourcing is the easiest way to make sure you have one on your side.

Cost savings: The traditional RFP route works in negotiating the leanest rates in accommodation, according to several studies. But it’s understandable that many travel managers can’t face adding serviced accommodation as a standalone RFP. By outsourcing, companies can benefit from the savings, without the stress.

Benchmarking: With serviced accommodation a fast-growing component of the business travel market, it requires its own RFP benchmarking tools outside those used for hotels if it is to deliver on priorities, such as wellbeing, security and cost savings. Outsourcing can ensure all these areas are carefully tracked, measured and assessed without extra work for internal teams.

Peace of mind: An ongoing lack of clarity in the serviced accommodation sector often leaves both travel managers and travellers themselves in the dark on what they can expect when they arrive, or even who to ask for assistance. Meanwhile, the ongoing risk of COVID-19 only adds to that uncertainty. With outsourcing, companies can ensure they only deal with those that provide the quality, comfort and safety they require.

Offering unparalleled choice, management teams should think carefully about ignoring serviced accommodation from their list of RFPs.

By opting to outsource tenders they can get all the benefits and none of the headaches.

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