A year after Deutsche Post DHL chose single multinational
providers for its agency and online booking services, the logistics and mail
distribution company in 2011 boosted compliance to its hotel program by
expanding its inventory and emphasizing security to its travelers.
DHL in 2010 consolidated its program, which covers most
countries in the world, to solely use Carlson Wagonlit Travel and Cliqbook. Within
six weeks, adoption had moved from a high of about 30 percent to more than 80
percent, said Michelle Hunt, DHL's travel manager for the Americas.
From there, DHL turned its focus to hotel compliance. DHL travelers
often were spot-buying, trying to find online deals better than DHL's
negotiated hotel rates, often thinking they were acting in the company's
interest during difficult economic times, Hunt said.
"We started looking at it from a safety and security
perspective," she said. "When something happens anywhere in the
world, we have someone there. We wanted to educate them that our rates may be
higher than the spot buys, but we can help them out if we need to provide
security in an emergency."
Part of the strategy was to make the hotel program more
inclusive, Hunt said. If a hotel a traveler wanted to use did not appear in the
booking tool, DHL encouraged the traveler to let the travel team know. The team
then would evaluate including that hotel in the program.
The company also implemented reason codes to determine why
travelers were not booking hotels alongside air reservations requiring an
overnight stay. CWT's systems also send travelers a reminder to book a hotel,
"We'll know if they're going to another site, or if
they have their own local agreement, we can get that in the program," she
said. "This way we can both educate them and know where they are."
Additionally, DHL has used quarterly reviews to communicate
the value of its hotel program to both travelers and executives. In the second
quarter of 2011, for example, its average hotel rates were 31 percent lower
than CWT's U.S. benchmark and 7 percent below its international rate.
Following its efforts, DHL's hotel compliance has climbed
steadily. Hotel compliance in 2009 was at 29 percent and rose to 38 percent in
2010. As of the midpoint of 2011, it stands at 53 percent.
Hunt acknowledges that she still has work to do in boosting
compliance levels even higher and hopes to continue closing that gap through
continued monitoring of exception codes and partnering with DHL's security
"Now we can focus on that last 50 percent," she
said. "Travelers want to do the right thing, so if you educate them and
make it easy for them, it's a win-win for everybody."