Get the Best Hotel Accommodations in Gurgaon

Among the cities most visited in India, Delhi & NCR holds the top place. In year 2003, Gurgaon was pronounced the ‘millennium city of India’, as most of the development of this city took place in 2000. Many multinationals have set up their offices in the city, and the economic development is going on at a very fast pace. With so many business travellers coming to Gurgaon, a number of good hotels have set up their shops in the city. Visitors have an option of choosing best hotel accommodations in Gurgaon well within their budget and with no burden on the pocket.

With so many people coming to the city, the hotels in the city have developed at a very fast rate. In just four and five years, 5 star hotels, business hotels, budget hotels and different kind of guest houses have sprung up to cater for the needs of business travellers.

Gurgaon has accommodation options to suit any budget and visitors can find accommodation for less than Rs. 1500 or as much in the city. Good hotels to stay at include the Galaxy, Radisson, Plaza, and Bristol. Accommodation at the outskirts is also available in suburbs such as Manesar for the benefit of visitors who value quiet and peace. Visitors looking for space and privacy can also book fully furnished apartments.

Visitors who are not concerned about money can book their accommodation at any of the luxury hotels, such as the Leela Kempinski. There are also business hotels belonging to reputed chains such as Trident that offer luxury at reasonable rates. Alternatively, visitors can also find rental apartments at fully furnished apartments with all the needed facilities in Gurgaon.

Moreover, the shopping centres, malls, restaurants, bars, etc. make the city a visitor’s paradise. If you are preparing to visit the city, you can book travel packages through travel portals. These travel packages are more economical. If you have reserved your ticket through a travel agent, it is better to get your hotel reservation done in advance to avoid hassles when you arrive in the city.

Given the regular travelling of business executives to the city on account of attending business meetings, many companies have a regular contract with hotels to avoid hassles. Once your trip is fixed, a notification is sent to the business hotel, and visitor thus enjoys a pleasant stay without any tension.

All hotels in Gurgaon are outfitted with all the modern amenities such as conference halls, telecommunication facilities, the internet, secretarial and translation services, private courier services, golf grounds, spa facilities, Swimming pools, restaurants, gymnasiums, bars, car services, guides, etc. are common in almost all hotels. So, get set and enjoy the best hotel accommodations in Gurgaon.

Things to Consider When Choosing Hotel Accommodation

Hotel accommodation is a very important aspect of any trip or vacation. This is because one’s hotel stay could greatly affect the time they have on a trip. It is therefore important for the vacationer or traveler to think carefully before they settle on any particular hotel during a trip, especially if they are traveling to a foreign country.

The first thing to consider is the rules of the hotel. There are many hotels that have rules on pets and children. Some hotels do not allow pets altogether, while others do not allow children below a particular age. Individuals who are planning on traveling with their pets or very young children should therefore confirm with the hotel in order to ensure that they are not inconvenienced on arrival.

The price of the hotel accommodation as well as the number of days that one will be staying should also be considered. There are a lot of hotels that are very pricey and this will mean that the amount the traveler is left with to spend on the rest of the trip is less. However, there are some discount hotels that still offer great services. Furthermore, there are times when pricey hotels offer discounts to customers in an effort to attract them. The traveler should read reviews as well as get information on any discounts before choosing a hotel to stay in. This will ensure that they do not spend most of their vacation money on accommodation.

The services offered in a hotel should always be considered when choosing a hotel. Most of the services are usually listed on the hotel’s website or even brochures. A lot of hotels offer complimentary services in order to attract customers. Some of these services are not necessary, but they will definitely help to make the vacation more enjoyable. If the services seem great and the price is not too high, the traveler can consider staying at such a hotel.

The reputation of the hotel based on the customer experience should never be ignored. There are a lot of websites that provide previous clients with a platform where they can air out their views on a particular hotel. A hotel with too many negative comments should be avoided. However, it is important to note that most hotels will have a bad review or two. The traveler should therefore look at what most people are saying about the hotel before choosing to go there.

Travelers should always consider the places they intend to visit while on vacation. If they intend to stay on a beach most of the time, they should choose a hotel near the beach. In short, they should get accommodation that is as close to the places they intend to visit as possible. This will ensure that they are not inconvenienced after a tired day of fun as they will be able to get to their hotel quickly so that they can freshen up and rest.

There are a lot of places all over the world that offer great hotel accommodation. Reviews will definitely help the traveler to narrow down their choices so that they can decide on which hotel to stay in depending on their holiday destination.

I am an avid researcher who loves writing on a number of topics including travel, leisure, gaming, sports, entertainment and beauty, among others.

Where To Find The Best Hotel Accommodation Online

Going on a trip? There are so many things to consider when booking for hotel accommodation. There’s the actual location of the hotel, its accessibility to public transportation, its proximity to the sites that you want to visit, the reviews of the hotel also play a big factor, and of course, there’s the cost.

Thankfully, everything nowadays is accessible through the Internet. We’ve compiled a list of online travel agencies offering accommodation in different price points. So whether you’re a backpacker or a leisure traveller, we’ve got you covered!

1. Booking.com

Booking.com has enjoyed being in 1st place of the top online travel agencies in the world since 2014 (according to Skift). They provide various types of accommodations from high-end hotels, hostels, apartments, and rooms. Customer ratings are displayed on the site, and you can search hotel accommodations depending on your budget, with most of the deals offering free cancellation.

2. Expedia.com

Launched in 1996, Expedia recently bought Orbitz, another online travel agency. Hotel booking is only a part of Expedia’s business, as they also book airline tickets, cruises, and even vehicle rentals. You can earn ‘Reward points’ by getting the Expedia+ card. They also regularly have secret deals and discount coupons for those looking for a deal.

3. Agoda.com

The only online travel agency based in Asia (Singapore) that became a part of the top online agencies in the world. Agoda.com has steadily increased their clientele by offering a “Best Price Guarantee” in their rooms, as well as having specialized “flash sales”. Hotel accommodation in Agoda range from luxury hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, to resorts.

4. Tripadvisor.com

While Tripadvisor.com is primarily a review site, they also offer the option of hotel booking. Currently, the site is Top 2 in the list of the top online travel agencies in the world, also according to Skift. What’s nice with it is that as you view various accommodation deals, you can also see price comparisons with another site offering the same hotel. Usually, the prices at tripadvisor.com are discounted, so you get the better deal. Also, the user generated reviews are very useful.

5. Hotels.com

You can book for hotel accommodation in Hotels.com for over 325,000 hotels worldwide. Bed and Breakfasts, inns, and even some condos are also included in its inventory. They have a great deal for long-stay guests called the ‘Hotels.com Rewards’. Guests that stay for at least 10 nights get a discount on their next booking.

6. BedandBreakfast.com

For those looking for the quaint charm of bed and breakfast accommodations, BedandBreakfast.com is a speciality site that’s been around for more than 20 years. The site offers Hot Deals, and has a special area for Diamond Collection Inns, which feature luxury bed and breakfast accommodation.

7. Hostels.com

Touting ‘great deals on hostels everywhere’, the site has 33,000 hostels in its inventory. And if you sign up for their SmartSavers membership, you virtually get no booking fees. Ideal for those on a budget, there’s so many choices in this site.

Hotel Accommodations – Important Considerations

Finding the right hotel accommodations that will meet your needs and expectations is almost like finding a needle in a haystack. Not quite, but almost like it. If you’re the type of traveler that has particular preferences, finding the hotel that will suit you, well ahead of your scheduled trip, would serve you best.

Travel agencies will be a good starting point of your research. More so, online travel guides will also be able to assist you in making the right choice of hotel. But before you tackle the quick points of finding the right hotel accommodations, here are a few questions you should have ready answers to:

1. Are you planning a vacation or a business trip?

2. Are you travelling with an infant or children?

3. Would you prefer downtown hotels, airport hotels or city hotels?

4. What is your budget?

5. How many days do you plan to stay?

Having answers to the above questions will help you set your sights on a specific kind of accommodation and will help you maximize your trip. For most parents like me, I base my hotel preference on the three criteria I have come up with over the many years of travelling:

SAFETY: First ground rule should include the safety considerations of me and my little girl. Every year when we plan out our trips, I consider hotels that are strategically located near police stations, first aid stations, clinics or hospitals, and even fire stations. If we are going for a really far away trip like our last year’s island hopping adventure, I opted to check in hotel accommodations that included 24-hour security, enough hotel staff to assist you in whichever way, with pools that are constantly guarded by “life guards”, and most importantly, have great fire proof plans and fire extinguishers on hand.

It is also essential to note that hotels that have garnered a three, four and five star rating would provide their best security and safety assistance to their hotel guests. However, if you prefer a more intimate and personal setting, I have discovered that bed and breakfasts, travel lodges, inns and business hotels prioritize safety in their considerations as well.

CONVENIENCE: Finding a grocery store, a pharmacy or even a parlor should be possible if you are the kind of traveler who would put convenience in your preference list. Hotel accommodations are now being marketed by the convenience that they offer to their hotel guests. Most hotels can be found in the middle of the metropolis or downtown area wherein good restaurants, shopping centers, recreation centers and relaxation centers are within an arm’s reach.

Even far flung hotels specified for weekend get-aways, honeymoons and quiet retreats also mark convenience in their priorities. These hotels provide their guests add-on services like in-house massages and spas, free internet connection, room food service, and in-house parlors, boutiques and souvenir shops, restaurants, coffee shops and bars.

It is also important to know if the hotel that you are considering provides airport transfers and that there is a steady stream of transportation for your easy travel. If you are travelling overseas, it is also important to consider that your hotel is located near foreign exchange establishments or banks.

BUDGET: Hotel accommodations abound and the only way to narrow down our choices is if we set our budget from the beginning. Most hotels offer packages wherein discounts may be availed if we stay for more than one night or if we avail of more than one room for groups travelling together. For a lengthy stay like a month or two, hotel accommodations may offer much lower rates and additional perks.

For whatever hotel accommodations you may choose, and whatever preferences you may have, always remember the three: Safety, Convenience and Budget. This will help you achieve a stress-free vacation or business trip and will allow you to maximize your travel plans.

Read About the Types of Hotel Accommodations

An establishment that provides lodging facilities in return for a certain amount of payment is known as a hotel and the shelter that it provides is known as the hotel accommodation. Apart from living quarters, hotels usually provide add-on facilities of restaurants, swimming pool, conference hall and sometimes even a crèche.

Hotel accommodations are of various types and the age-old adage of ‘pay more, get more’ holds true in such a situation. The general trend in this industry is that the higher the cost the better is the quality in terms of service and the range of amenities provided to the guest. To adjudge the standard of the hotel there is a rating system which is followed worldwide and is denoted by stars wherein the five stars indicate the ultimate in luxury and is followed by four, three, two, one and finally no stars. As the number of stars diminish, so does the standard of quality, service and amenities offered and it is the no-star category which is the cheapest and the least luxurious.

There are some hotels which are different from the usual brick-and-mortar accommodations and a popular variety in this regard is the tree-house. These are built amidst real trees and it is the tree trunks which are used as structural elements. Nestled in the lap of nature, these are unique forms of hotel accommodations and attract visitors simply due to their ethnic and natural settings. Mainly located in wildlife reserves and areas which are characterized by dense vegetation, these hotels are a portion of the resort and are managed by authorities which are specialized in this form of accommodation.

Another out-of-the-way form of hotel accommodation is capsule hotel wherein the capsules are stacked sideways as also on top of each other. Since the space is also as big as a medium sized block made out of plastic or fiberglass it can only be used for sleeping with amenities like lockers and washrooms being communal. Courtesy of their nature and size, they can be used only as transit accommodation and are economically priced. Thus for people who are traveling and just need to sleep for a part of the journey, these are the ideal form of accommodations.

Then there are boutique budget hotels which boast of state-of-the-art amenities set amidst stylish surroundings so that travelers get a taste of living in style without spending a fortune and yet being comfortable. Other types of cheap hotel accommodations are hostels and bed & breakfast.

You can search on the net to know more about Hahei Accommodation. Click here to know more about Accommodation Hahei.

What Travel Agents Need to Know About Corporate Travel Today

This is rightly named as the age of traveler-centricity and with the evolution of the new era of personalized travel; it is leading to research and development of a host of new so-called intelligent services. The command-and-control perspectives of traveling have changed a lot from the past and the focus has shifted more on the traveler and the productivity of each trip. It has become essential to maintain that the travelers have the greatest return on investment on each trip. New generations of young employees and managers, who have been growing up and dwelling in a digital age, are moving up the ranks as travelers. It has become essential to recognize the need for greater flexibility acknowledging that the employees who travel on corporate trips also consider a percentage of their trip to be a leisure outlet. With increasing globalization and rise in companies sending their staff overseas to network and connect with their offshore prospects/customers/suppliers, corporate travel is a highly profitable tourism segment. Before we talk about how tourism companies can better cater to business travelers, let us first look at why they prefer to use specialized corporate agencies over traditional agents

Why do businesses use Corporate Travel Agencies?

This might be the most basic question for a travel agency as to why they need to use agencies specializing in corporate travel when there are plenty of regular travel agents in the market. Here is the importance of corporate travel agencies who have online systems which allow business travelers access to their complete itinerary.

The following information is at the fingertips of the CTAs:-

full business itinerary details
up-to-date tracking details of flights (including delays or rescheduling)
transparent details about additional costs such as baggage fees or in-flight fees
travel alerts, if any, in the destined area
complete and up-to-date details about the visa procurement policies and identification required
currency requirement and conversion rates

What do corporate clients expect from Corporate Travel Agencies?

Negotiated Fares

The Corporate Agencies tend to have tie-ups with hotels, car rentals, flights etc. giving them access to lower fares which can be used only by the frequent business travelers. Discounted prices are not the only advantage though as they also offer flight upgrades, room upgrades, and VIP check-in lines as required.

In-depth information about the travel industry

Corporate travel agents have access to many travel resources and most importantly, quickly, than any other leisure travel agent. Additional information helps to make the business trips convenient and comfortable.

Changes in Itinerary

When an airline ticket needs to get rescheduled or cancelled, chances are the airline or the online service provider will charge lofty fees. When booking with a corporate travel agent, most of the times schedule changes can be done at zero or minimal extra charges.

Viable emergency contacts

It is important for the business travelers to reach the correct person at the need of trouble. Corporate travel agents have the experience and professionalism to relieve stress for both the traveler and the company.

What you need to consider as corporate travel increases?

Business Travel Barometer reported that corporate travel is witnessing an accelerated growth. However, when poorly managed, it may be no longer an advantage to companies and may, in fact become a burden. There are some factors which the corporations and CTAs must consider to get the best out of the time spent traveling.

Adopting a travel policy

The corporate must define a travel policy which is applicable to and respected by travelers at all levels. This policy should be used to establish the standards which will help to track the improvement of business travel. It will eventually help to reduce the costs of the entire package.

Do not limit the traveler’s autonomy

The management is responsible for budgeting the travel policy which helps to improve cost management however, it is also essential to give a degree of autonomy to the traveler. The policy should be flexible enough to allow the employee to adapt the trip as per the situation.

Traveler’s security should be a major concern

Business travelers need to have security in place. The company needs to stick to its definition of standards to ensure the employee’s integrity. The CTAs should have reliable partners (travel insurance, airlines, hotel chains etc.).

Mobility and automation

To optimize time and ease the processes, the administration of management platforms should have automated processes. This means they should adopt mobile solutions where search options, travel alerts, ticket reservations etc. can be accessed quickly, easily and on the go.

Corporate Travel Trends in 2016

Corporate travel trends tend to change regularly. 2016 has also not been any different and the travel management companies (TMCs) and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) are quite focused to provide steady if not strong axis all over. A growing MICE sector, investments in mobile and big data and enhanced focus on duty of care are some of their areas of focus.

Rising prices

The consolidated buzzword among global suppliers, airfares, hotel rates etc. is the rising fares. It is sometimes the move of the suppliers to generate discounts which encourage travel if there is a strong decline in demand. A positive 2016 world economy has been bringing an increase in air fares of a few percentage points, hotels are expected to see 4%-6% rise in average global rates and the competition will remain moderate in the car rental services.

Duty of care

Risk management is one of the major points of emphasis for corporations. Corporate customers are allowing new policies and improved technologies to monitor employees’ location in case of an emergency, especially when they are travelling to foreign destinations. For instance, Concur Risk Messaging helps to identify the travelers moving around in the world and alerts them with alternate travel arrangement as and when needed.

Focusing on MICE

Meetings industry is a major growing sector and the corporate travel trend is developing on it. The corporate travel agencies should better start aligning the various meeting procurement methodologies with its transient travel sourcing. One of the ways could be to broaden the variety of meeting services by incorporating incentive trips within it.

Investing in technology

A sharper focus on increasing value and becoming more traveler-centric can be done by bringing in mobile friendly technologies. Mobile and big data are definitely the two most significant technological investments which any corporate travel agency must focus to make their platform more appealing.

Business travel analysis after Brexit

Following Brexit, ACTE and CAPA shared their speculations. According to them, the greatest short-term effects on the travel industry will come from the weakening of the pound against other world currencies. Greeley Koch, executive director for the Association of Corporate Travel Executives said that the business travel industry will trend on currency fluctuations; with some companies taking advantage of the weaker pound and traveling more, while others may withhold business travel until world markets find their own level.

Impact of terrorism on corporate travelers

Travel policy makers and administrators need to be guided by rising terrorism scare. For executives and staff undertaking travel on behalf of businesses, the travel agents and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) should prove the reassurance for their safety through the travel policies. It is more than likely that the surveys conducted over corporate travelers reflect the general concern of the global business travelers about the spate of terrorism. However, there is no denying the fact that terrorist threat is changing the patterns of business travel. The key impact of this is to keep in mind that the companies providing travel services for business travelers need to enhance their focus on security and the associated risks in delivering the services to corporate clients. According to a recent finding, travel managers have higher estimation of their policy’s effectiveness in addressing risk compared to skeptical business travelers.

Concluding

Although the corporate travel sector has continued to progress, there are a plethora of challenges faced by the industry. A rapidly changing consumer market, the emergence of new business models, the impact of technology, man-made and natural crises are some of the fulcrum points that need to be considered before planning corporate trips.

Base Tendriling Travel Expenses

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”

Frank Kent, Western regional manager for United Airlines, concurs: “United Airlines participates in corporate volume discounting, such as bulk ticket purchases, but not with net pricing. I have yet to see one net-fare agreement that makes sense to us. We’re not opposed to it, but we just don’t understand it right now.”

Kent stresses, “Airlines should approach corporations with long-term strategic relationships rather than just discounts. We would like to see ourselves committed to a corporation rather than just involved.”

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference.

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.