Sabre Travel Network last month acquired hotel request for proposals processor BidStork and this week announced a suite of tools to simplify the hotel rate negotiation and loading process. Available to clients immediately, the capabilities acquired through BidStork include request for proposal services, hotel rate auditing and automated hotel profile population into the GetThere self-booking tool.
"The result of bringing these capabilities together is that Sabre corporate agencies and corporate customers will now have a fully integrated RFP management process via an easy-to-use online tool that until now was not possible since no viable solutions existed in the marketplace," according to a statement attributed to Sabre Travel Network chief marketing officer Greg Webb. "On the surface, a new rate negotiation service may not sound like something to get excited about. However, many of our customers are seeing game-changing potential."
BidStork, which claimed nearly 300 customers including Accenture, Best Buy, Campbell's Soup, Charles Schwab, Google, Levi, Nike and Wal-Mart, said in 2007 it helped travel managers prepare about 40,000 RFPs and helped hoteliers to respond to more than 31,000 RFPs.
Paying "primarily a monthly charge," according to a Sabre spokeswoman, corporations and travel management company clients can access the National Business Travel Association-compliant RFP offered by BidStork through an online wizard. Once the RFP package is complete, BidStork facilitates the RFP delivery to hoteliers and corporations can begin negotiating rates, which are loaded into the global distribution system when finalized.
The BidStork RFP program is "quite simple," said Aerojet corporate travel manager Bill Ritchie. "It loads my hotel programs into the database and people respond. I either accept or reject the responses and bingo it's done. It also publishes the inventory so I don't have to reinvent the wheel every time I updated my program."
Sabre's optional negotiated rate auditing service sends to buyers screen shots of hotel rates that have been loaded into the GDS as proof of whether rates were loaded correctly.
Any support travel managers can get for hotel rate loading is welcome. According to Carlson Wagonlit Travel's Hotel Solutions Group, even after a fifth audit, only 91 percent of negotiated rates are loaded correctly into the global distribution systems. Buyers then must "chase" after to suppliers to correct the rates, according to CWT.
Aerojet's Ritchie said he conducted a rate audit through Sabre's service and found that some hotel rates were incorrectly loaded months after the rates were inputted. "Sometimes it's just a simple correction from the hotelier; they forgot to load the rate or they put the wrong numbers in," he said.
Sabre Travel Network vice president of hotel and car distribution Stephen Fitzgerald suggested buyers could use Sabre's Spotlight screen preferencing tool to penalize hotels that failed to properly load rates.
Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants recently said it would use online RFP provider Nexus World Solutions to accelerate the RFP process and load negotiated rates into the hotels' internal reservation system (provided by Pegasus Solutions) and, in turn, into GDSs. This "allows us to stay in touch with our clients and they have a process to ensure that once Jan. 1 hits, everyone's rates are loaded and available," said Kimpton senior vice president of sales Christine Lawson. "We have an entire distribution revenue department that audits all of our rates prior to the new year."