Global charter could reduce hotel-booking costs

29 November 2011

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29 November 2011 | Angeline Albert  

Buyers could benefit from cheaper booking processes following a global charter launched by the Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA).

The International Charter gives guidance on payment terms, enquiry response times and commission levels. The UK organisation that created it represents hotel booking agents (HBAs) who influence a combined corporate travel spend of more than £2.3 billion a year. It hopes hotels and venues in Europe, the Middle East and North America will sign up to the charter in the hope of attracting more business from UK hotel agents booking accommodation abroad.

It is also hoped it will make the relationship between international hotels and HBAs more efficient. The document requires agents to identify themselves as a booking agent at the outset of negotiations with hotels and venues including their expectation of commission and rates.

The charter’s move towards greater transparency and clearer terms and conditions has been welcomed by Paul Tilstone, CEO of the Institute of Travel & Meetings, which represents travel buyers. He said: “If there is greater efficiency in the commission structure this could translate into benefits to buyers such as cheaper hotel booking processes.”

And hotel-booking agents who receive a commission will benefit from a more efficient cost-base, which could mean cost savings are passed on to purchasers. The charter also helps corporate buyers who share a commission with HBAs because it makes the structure more transparent. Furthermore, increased transparency means buyers who are passed back the full commission from HBAs should receive it more promptly.

Tilstone added: “I can’t see any negatives here. If there is sign up between the hotels and hotel booking agents that can only be good news for buyers.”

Steve Ockerby, chairman of the international charter committee, said: “Everyone recognises that meetings and events are no longer confined purely to the UK and that a working practice needed to be put in place to clarify and strengthen the relationships between UK HBAs and overseas hotels and venues.”

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