Business travel tips for SMEs – how and where to get the best rates

Chris Roe, Accor

Chris Roe, vice president of sales, distribution and loyalty at AccorHotels UK & Ireland shares his insights with Scotland B2B

When it comes to business travel, small and medium sized businesses often feel overlooked, assuming that the good deals are solely for large companies.
However, this is a common misconception – SMEs often travel a lot and can get some of the best deals out there.
Hotel ibis Edinburgh Centre
Hotel ibis Edinburgh Centre
The following tips will give you the ‘know how’ to get the best rates for your business as well as showing you how to make the most of your business travel:
  • Have full oversight of upcoming travel opportunities within your business: with small businesses travel organisation tends to happen at PA or department level so if there is a large volume of travel happening in one team or division, those that are responsible for booking the travel may not realise the potential savings at their disposal if they consolidated the bookings. Find out who within your business is staying where and make the most of your buying power.
  • Ask the right questions: make sure you shop around and rather than fighting for the hotels with the best rates, let the hotels fight for you. If you have X amount of employees visiting for a long period of time – ask ‘who wants my business?’
  • Avoid a disconnect: as an SME company you’re unlikely to have the volume of business that warrants having a travel management company but do check this out as you may be surprised how they can help, if they can’t, work directly with the hotel because this means better decisions are made quickly. The hotel will be able to advise you on the best rate and board options, membership schemes and help you throughout every step of the process – from the moment you book and check in to the moment you leave. This means your stay can be traveller-centric, rather than concentrating on cost alone.

    ibis Glasgow City Centre
    ibis Glasgow City Centre
  • Loyalty pays: examine where your employees take trips to and consider which loyalty scheme will be most beneficial for your needs. The chances are, if you need stays in multiple locations, you will derive greater benefit from using a loyalty scheme with one of the larger hotel groups, which have hotels across many locations. If you’re an AccorHotels ABA card holder, for example, you will get a discounted rate and loyalty points at any of the 234 UK hotels, including 25 hotels in Scotland. This also includes preferable “away on business” rates – a guaranteed discount for your stay. The Accor ABA programme also allows you to book all Accor UK hotels using your ABA card and at the end of the month you receive one bill for all your transactions, which saves times and enables you to avoid complex expense claims.
  • Stay connected: business trips can be particularly stressful if you are trying to keep up with every day work tasks. Although free Wi-Fi is a common occurrence in today’s hotel industry, there are still some hotels where you have to pay for it so it’s worth checking this out in advance to avoid a costly bill.
  • Working areas: it sounds simple but people often overlook whether or not the hotel has meeting rooms, quiet working areas or even just a table in the room. The trip needs to be as similar to a working day, week or month as possible and this means it’s crucial to have a good working environment to make leaving the office as seamless as possible.

    Mercure Edinburgh Princes Street Hotel
    Mercure Edinburgh Princes Street Hotel
  • Food and beverage: there is a year round need for full-service hotels but this is another element that is also often overlooked. Having good food and beverage options available in a good environment can make a big difference to your employees.
When planning your trip, don’t presume the best deals are only on offer to the larger companies – when you know how to make the most of your booking, there are a lot of deals out there.
However, it’s not just about cost – it’s also important to make sure you choose the right hotel for your employees.
Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House Hotel & Spa
Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House Hotel & Spa
Working in partnership with the right hotel can make business travel more rewarding for the business and its employees and allows for business to continue as usual.
AccorHotels is the world’s leading hotel operator and operates a number of hotels in the east of Scotland, including the ibis Edinburgh Centre Royal Mile, Mercure Peebles Barony Castle Hotel, and Novotel Edinburgh Centre.

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