After Agency, Self-Booking Consolidation, DHL Tackles Hotel Compliance - Business Travel News

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After Agency, Self-Booking Consolidation, DHL Tackles Hotel Compliance

December 13, 2011 - 03:25 PM ET

By Michael B. Baker

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, Hunt said.

"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 team.

"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."

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