How to Negotiate Better Corporate Hotel Rates: Five Tips
Negotiating for a better corporate hotel rate is time consuming, especially if you’ve never done it before. There are a lot of logistics involved, and knowing that the rate that a hotel offers isn’t even guaranteed to be the best one available can make it feel like an uphill battle that may not be worth it.
If you’re deciding whether to negotiate your own corporate hotel rates, we’re here to help.
In this guide we’ll walk you through how corporate hotel rates work, some potential related perks, and five hot tips to easily negotiate for a better rate without wasting time.
How Do You Negotiate for a Better Corporate Rate?
Negotiating for a better corporate rate requires understanding what you have to offer the hotel; that’s the foundation of your negotiating platform. In this case, properties offer discounted corporate hotel rates in order to entice more guests and maintain consistent occupancy, and you can use that in your favor.
Hotels don’t like to leave rooms empty, and businesses looking to book reservations can use that to their advantage. Ideally, businesses like yours will repeatedly book rooms at a property that offers competitive corporate rates — along with other amenities — instead of searching for a new property to accommodate their employees.
Depending on the size of your business and the group traveling, you may be able to negotiate reduced booking rates, upgrades, loyalty points or flexible cancellation policies, especially if they might be able to secure your return business. If hotels can draw in more recurrent bookings, they’ll make up for the discounted price in the long run.
Of course, negotiating for that corporate rate takes time and project management chops to keep all the logistics in order — a resource that most busy administrators, coordinators and working travelers simply don’t have.
Negotiation is just the first step, with no guaranteed success; If you’re a smaller business, it might be hard to even get to the negotiation table.
Instead, consider a trip management platform that can do the haggling for all of your groups for you. With the right software, any size business can take advantage of negotiated rates, consolidated charges and simplified trip tracking, saving time and preventing headaches.
If you’d rather take on the negotiations yourself, here are our five tips for getting the best possible corporate hotel rate.
5 Tips to Negotiate a Better Corporate Hotel Rate
To guarantee the best corporate hotel rates efficiently and effectively, you’ll want a streamlined booking process, a dedicated, negotiation-savvy partner and the right technology.
Tip #1: Use a Smarter Travel Management Platform
Coordinating business travel is overwhelming under the best circumstances, but when you’re coordinating group travel or negotiating corporate hotel rates, it can feel downright impossible.
Fortunately, the proper tools can make anything possible.
With an intelligent booking platform, you can easily filter available hotels based on location, price, amenities and more — so you can instantly choose the best match based on your own unique criteria.
The best platforms partner with hundreds of thousands of hotels globally to simplify corporate bookings, itinerary and receipt tracking. Some even enable easy access to advanced reporting and analytics, so you can track your overall spending, identify inefficiencies and make adjustments to increase your savings over time.
Most importantly, the right platform will help you centralize and organize the process of manually comparing and booking hotels; so you can rest assured that you’ve gotten a great deal without all the extra legwork. Plus, modern platforms even help travelers earn rewards for every trip, so you can stack points, perks and discounts for an even better corporate hotel rate.
If you’re unsure which platform is right for you, and how to distinguish some trip management and booking platforms from travel management companies (TMCs) or widespread online travel agencies (OTA), we’re here to help. We’ve outlined everything to look for in the right booking tool here.
For now, remember that TMCs and OTAs both have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages. TMCs platform is exclusively available to their clients, while anyone can use an OTA.
TMCs offer support with booking and negotiating corporate hotel rates, but are often prohibitively expensive for small and medium-sized businesses. OTAs don’t have the robust tools that businesses need.
Thankfully, you don’t have to pay for an expensive TMC to negotiate a great corporate hotel rate, or do all the legwork yourself.
Skip to the end to see how to get TMC-level support without the TMC-level price tag.
Tip #2: Check for Last-Minute Rates
It’s no secret that hotels don’t like to leave rooms empty. That’s like leaving money on the table: each unoccupied hotel room subtracts from the hotel’s potential profit. Depending on the season, hotels avoid empty rooms by offering higher discounts at the last minute.
Of course, taking advantage of these last-minute deals requires flexibility in your schedule — often tricky for business travelers. Rather than book your stay months or weeks in advance, you’d want to wait until the week- or day-of travel to check the hotel’s current rate.
Keep in mind that the hotel might not have availability. If you’re traveling as a group, or can’t afford to adjust your plans last minute, you may not want to take the risk. Without the right tools, last-minute hotel bookings can be chaotic, stressful and simply not worth the potential savings.
Tip #3: Look for an Extended Stay or Group Discount
Another option for solo or group travelers is to negotiate a group or long-term discount.
Business travelers spending a few nights in a hotel may save big if they book a room at an extended stay hotel. Unlike overnight hotels and other temporary housing options, extended stay hotels offer special amenities and price options to accommodate their longer-term guests.
These discounted rates go unadvertised and usually kick in after a certain amount of time, such as a five-to-seven day period.
A hotel’s best available rate also drops significantly if you book with a large group. Since 1 of every 5 dollars of hotel room revenue is a result of the U.S. meeting industry, hotels are usually eager to make deals in exchange for group reservations.
But remember: group booking requests and long-term stays can take extra time to book and confirm, unless you have the support of the right booking platform, so start planning as early as possible. And don’t forget to double-check your contracts: different hotels have varying definitions of both “group bookings” and “extended stays.”
Tip #4: Negotiate for Upgrades or Free Nights
You’d be hard-pressed to find a hotel that willingly offers the best price — plus upgrades and other perks — to guests who haven’t asked.
Hotels that see lots of business travel have an extra advantage, since they know employees must travel and book rooms for work. It’s in hotels’ best interest to play it cool and only offer upgrades and freebies to those who really push for them.
That being said, every once in a while you may get lucky, and find that all it takes to get upgraded to that corner room on the top floor is to ask. In other cases, you’ll need to join the hotel rewards program or use a specific corporate credit card to rake in those upgrades or qualify for free nights.
Unfortunately, managing rewards points across multiple loyalty programs, finding availability at a hotel that accepts the program of your choice, and accruing enough points to actually get perks can be a challenge. And some programs or credit card offers have complicated terms and conditions, making it critical to review the terms carefully before signing on the dotted line.
That’s a lot to manage if you’re short on time, and can sometimes be impossible in remote destinations.
Finding a booking tool for business travelers that can help you navigate rewards, earn on every stay, get great discounts and free nights, as well as accrue loyalty points from top hotel programs can be a tough ask, but it’s not impossible.
Tip #5: Speak Directly with Hotel Management
If you clearly explain that you are traveling for business, communicating directly with hotels often leads to a successful corporate discount, as many hotel managers want to open the door for recurring bookings.
However, this is a time-intensive process, and success is never guaranteed. You will most likely end up submitting an RFP to several hotels asking for bids, before even getting into direct negotiations.
If you have a small group traveling, the travel is going to be short-term — or you just know how valuable your time is — then enlisting the support of the right booking tool may be a better and more-likely way to get a great rate.
You can get help managing all your business trips, save with pre-negotiated corporate hotel rates, and rest easy knowing you and all of your travelers have 24/7 support standing by.
Choose Hotel Engine as Your Partner for Better Corporate Hotel Rates
Landing the best hotel rates every time can be a time-consuming challenge for businesses that require their employees to travel frequently. Understanding how to negotiate a lower corporate rate, ensuring you get the best deal and doing so without wasting time can feel impossible.
Not with Hotel Engine.
With Hotel Engine, businesses will save time and money with our streamlined booking tools and exclusive rates, and enjoy robust trip management tools without the extra cost. You can seamlessly book and track trips, reconcile expenses, and report on spending, saving your team time and energy.
You can even hand off the hassle of finding hotels and negotiating rates for group trips and extended stays — just submit a simple form and get hotel options to meet your needs within hours. All with our free-to-use platform.
Save your bandwidth for other priorities by letting Hotel Engine negotiate rates for you — saving you up to 60% over publicly listed prices.
Learn how Hotel Engine simplifies and streamlines corporate bookings, or sign up to start saving today.
Audrey Fairbrother is the Content and SEO Manager at Hotel Engine. She spends her days writing about all things business travel, researching topics that are important to Hotel Engine’s audience and cultivating the company’s brand voice. When she’s not working, Audrey enjoys spending time with her family, and hiking in the nearby Rockies with her dog, Albie.