Hotel Engine or a Travel Management Company: What’s the Best Fit for Your Business Travel Needs?

Audrey Fairbrother
June 28, 2021
Hotel Engine or a Travel Management Company: What’s the Best Fit for Your Business Travel Needs?

What are your priorities when it comes to managing your company’s travel?Maybe you want the widest possible choice of hotels. Or the best rates.Perhaps you’re more concerned with the organization of business travel — and finding the right support and tools to make managing your team’s trips a bit easier.In this blog, we’ll take an honest look at two of the options available to businesses when it comes to business travel organization: Travel Management Companies (TMCs) and Hotel Engine.Which is best suited for you and your business? Let’s find out!

Hotel Engine & TMCs: The Key Differences


Let’s start by taking a look at the key features you can expect from TMCs and Hotel Engine.

Travel Management Companies

Travel management companies provide (primarily large or enterprise) companies with the tools they need to manage their business travel. With a TMC, you can:

  • Book hotels, flights, and rental cars all from the same platform
  • Use your admin dashboard to view itineraries and manage bookings
  • Choose from a few different types of payment options
  • Get 24/7 customer support

Hotel Engine

Hotel Engine specializes solely in hotel bookings for businesses. It provides a more affordable model of travel management for small and medium businesses, while still offering the robust array of reporting and analytics tools required for enterprise and government organizations.With Hotel Engine, you can:

  • Search, filter, and book hotels inside the platform and save up to 60% on your business lodging
  • Use your personalized admin dashboard to view itineraries, manage bookings, manage spend, and analyze travel data
  • Choose from easy payment options (like Direct Bill or the option to add Incidentals Coverage for your team)
  • Choose from 400,000+ hotels, in the US, Canada and around the world
  • Get 24/7 US-based customer support, including a dedicated team to arrange your group bookings and long-term stays


What kind of travel prices are available through TMCs and Hotel Engine? And what does it cost to use each service?

Travel Management Companies

When organizations book their travel through a TMC, they expect to save on hotel rates vs. booking direct. However, savings are often light and fees are usually added on.TMCs normally charge a platform or software fee, which can range from $10K to $1M per year (or more). Many will also charge a non-booking fee if customers do not meet a minimum booking requirement, which can range from $50-$75K per year.Many times, users are also charged a fee each time they make a booking. And there can be additional fees if your plans change and you want to make a cancellation. These costs can sometimes be out of reach for small and medium-sized businesses and can add up if you have multiple business travelers making regular trips.

Hotel Engine

In contrast to TMCs, Hotel Engine's platform is completely free to use. There are no joining fees, annual or membership fees, and Hotel Engine does not require any contracts or minimums. This model provides a lot of flexibility, as well as additional savings for companies who want managed travel, but can’t commit to a TMC contract.


Most travel companies offer some kind of reward program. How do TMCs and Hotel Engine measure up in this regard?

Travel Management Companies

TMCs sometimes offer points and rewards — like Amazon gift cards, free travel upgrades, and giveaways — to travelers who choose less desirable travel options. This would mean, for example, choosing a two star over a four star hotel, or a 4am flight instead of one at 9am.For travel managers, this can work well because it incentivizes employees to choose cheaper travel options and helps the company to save costs. But for travelers themselves, it doesn’t always create the best trip experience.

Hotel Engine

At Hotel Engine, travelers are rewarded based on dollars spent through our HE Rewards program — nothing else. We are a customer-focused company, and we want your team to travel comfortably and free from stress. For every night you book, you’ll rack up points that can be used to reserve free stays.What’s more, you can layer HE Rewards points on top of other preferred brand-specific loyalty programs for even bigger savings. This double-rewards program is one of very few in the industry.


Reporting features help companies of all sizes spot inefficiencies and find ways to reduce cost. So how do the reporting features of TMCs and Hotel Engine differ?[bctt tweet="Reporting features help companies of all sizes spot inefficiencies and find ways to reduce cost. So how do the reporting features of TMCs and Hotel Engine differ? Learn more:" username="hotel_engine"]

Travel Management Companies

When it comes to reporting, TMCs have some in-platform data that can help travel managers get a birds-eye view of travel spend. However, other reports may need to be requested and sent to customers in a PDF format, which can make it difficult to export for specific uses or run custom reports. Some TMCs offer customers the option to upgrade to their reporting features for an additional cost.

Hotel Engine

Hotel Engine offers members the ability to run custom reports and generate extensive data on their businesses travel spend, travel trends, average savings, etc. These reporting features are included in each dashboard for no additional cost, and members have the ability to export and download reports in different formats.


Last but not least, let’s dive into the standout benefits of each travel service. What is their central offering for business travelers?

Hotel Engine or TMCs

Travel Management Companies

TMCs offer companies a hassle-free way to manage their travel. Their unique selling points can be boiled down to two key factors:Easy to use and to integrateOnce your account is up and running, TMCs are generally easy to use. Some TMCs require that a customer have dedicated travel managers who can learn the platform inside-and-out and manage all bookings.Full travel itinerary optionsBecause TMCs offer rental cars and flights as well as hotels, they are a one-stop shop for business travel needs. You can view entire itineraries through one platform, saving time in the process.

Hotel Engine

And what marks Hotel Engine out from the competition? We differ from TMCs in three key ways:SavingsIn contrast to TMCs, Hotel Engine is completely free to use — from the moment you join and for every booking thereafter. This can save companies hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees.Hotel Engine members save up to 60% on business lodging as well, which helps compound the savings.Easy setupHotel Engine offers quick start up. Unlike the big TMCs, you don’t have to undertake an extensive demo or negotiate contracts. Instead, you give us your details, and someone from our Member Experience team will set you up within one business day. Then, you can start add team members and making hotel bookings right away.We don’t require a contract and you can use our platform as much or as little as you like.Group Booking SupportWhile most TMCs require that you go through a third-party agency for assistance with booking travel for large groups, Hotel Engine offers this service built-in. Our dedicated Project Services team can help you coordinate travel for conferences, project-stays, professional trainings, and more at no cost to you.

The Verdict: Hotel Engine or Travel Management Companies?

In certain cases, TMCs can simplify travel booking and management for big corporations. They offer a range of travel tools that help streamline the reservation process and travel analytics too.But not every business or business traveler can commit to a TMC contract. Nor do they necessarily have the budget to pay for TMC membership and ongoing fees. And at the end of the day, the savings are pretty limited (if present at all) when it comes to booking lodging.For these businesses, Hotel Engine is the ideal alternative.We can help you to track, analyze and manage your bookings — discovering where efficiencies can be made along the way and paying your hotel bills in one monthly lump sum.When it comes to affordable yet robust travel management solutions, Hotel Engine really can’t be beat.But don’t take our word for it. Why not see Hotel Engine in action for yourself?Just click here to set up your account. You could be saving time and money on your business travel reservations within days.

Article written by
Audrey Fairbrother

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.

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