Corporate Travel Buying – What Happens When London Is Full?

I’ve had a theory for some time that if I were still a Procurement Director or CPO, I would pretty much leave the travel category in the hands of the users / travellers. The advent of low-cost airlines, dynamic pricing, “top secret” bargain hotels and so on means that the poor old corporate travel manager is facing a losing battle to prove they can show better value than the traveller can achieve themselves after a few minutes using Google.

OK, I would work with HR to set travel policies, and perhaps look at how we can collect data. But why do a corporate hotel deal with Hilton when you can find better bargains by being flexible and agile?  I remember staying in the same hotel as Guy Allen for a London dinner a while back, his booked through the Fujitsu corporate travel system, and a supposedly special corporate deal, mine done on line personally – and my rate was £25 cheaper.

But last week might just have disapproved my theory, or certainly pointed out one flaw. Because London was full. With the possibility of a late ticket for the CIPS SM Awards event, I checked out hotel availability and prices on Tuesday for a Wednesday night booking. And it was horrific. The only “top secret” hotel on the site was priced at £999, and on another site, the run of the mill Paddington area hotels that normally we might see at between £120 and £150 were either full or said something like “1 room available - £1,250”.

Here is a screenshot to prove it – an apartment at Paddington rather than a hotel, but at £6,000 for the night! That was the highest amount I found, but there were many into the £2,000 plus.


I wonder if corporate hotel deals were honoured last week? It got better the further out of the centre you went, but how did civil servants manage for instance with their cap on rates? Anyway, if decent corporate rates were achieved, that was one week where my theory would not have worked too well, and perhaps the corporate travel manager proved their worth.

It also suggests that London is booming, whatever is happening elsewhere post Brexit. Sterling’s fall makes the UK more attractive to tourists and business, and last week the capital certainly seemed to be taking advantage of that!

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