'On request bookings are unacceptable, and should be phased out'

Jon West
posted by Jon West
15 April 2015

In a world where everything is instantaneous, it’s astounding procurement managers and bookers are still being offered on request bookings by not only corporate accommodation suppliers, but also sharing economy providers such as Airbnb, VRBO, Roomorama among others.

Consumers have long been able to make instantaneous hotel bookings at a click of a button through hotel booking sites such as booking.com and expedia.com.

This begs the question how are many suppliers still providing an on request service which often compromises business travellers’ booking choices? Business travellers should have access to real time availability and bookability, as well as access to in-depth content.

For example, you might go to make an on request booking but have to wait for up to 48 hours to receive a response or confirmation – only to find that the price has changed or the hotel may no longer be available.

In this instance, you will need to start the process again, meaning from a procurement perspective, time, manpower and money are lost for the booker and their company. How can a supplier justify displaying a property if they can’t supply it there and then? And how can this make good business sense when it comes to productivity?

Agents may argue they can add value through intervening in the booking process and offering both an on and offline user experience. But the reality is they won’t always have access to in-depth information or content about each property compared to online booking tools. They also can’t provide instant reassurance that it’s available to book. The chances are they may not have access to as many properties, and will have direct relationships with fewer hotels – meaning that they might not be able to secure the best rate available.

The fact that several GDSs are starting to use HRS content to satisfy their customers’ demands for more choice, real-time availability, bookability and usability shows that now’s the time for other accommodation suppliers to catch up so that they too can offer the best possible service to customers. If suppliers using on request bookings haven’t sorted out their technology by now, how can they continue to compete in the marketplace for the long-term? For me, on request bookings are unacceptable, and should be phased out entirely.

Jon West is managing director of HRS UK and Ireland

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