The recently launched Group Travel Bidding Engine will help agents secure best possible rates with hotel suppliers. // © 2015 Thinkstock
Did You Know?
Tourico Holidays has expanded its concept of prepaying for room blocks at select hotels to include activity and attraction tickets from select suppliers. Travel agents will be able to purchase these products for up to 42 percent off retail, in addition to having access to no blackout dates, last-minute availability and increased inventory.
Wholesale travel broker Tourico Holidays recently launched its online Group Travel Bidding Engine. This new tool provides group travel agents with a unique way to communicate directly with hotel suppliers in order to get the best rates for their clients.
Lauri Simpson, senior manager of corporate marketing for Tourico Holidays, spoke with TravelAge West about the newly launched engine, including how it will work and why travel agents should consider using it.
How did the idea for the Group Travel Bidding Engine first come about?
Travel agents have been asking for a better way to do group quotes. They wanted something that could be automatic and could help their group travel rates be more competitive.
We decided to take the needs of both suppliers and clients into consideration and create something that was automated, simple, easy-to-use and, most importantly, benefited everyone involved.
What does the engine do?
It essentially takes out the middleman with regards to agents and suppliers. This engine streamlines the group quote processes that are often delayed.
The industry standard is a group agent would work with a wholesaler. They are given information about where the group wants to stay and how many rooms. Then, it is completely up to the wholesaler to return with options based on what they thought were best for the group. This is often based off their relationship with suppliers.
What this engine provides is full-scale openness and availability to group agents. It gives them the transparency to know what they are going to receive when booking with a supplier. The automated process of the engine is also very beneficial for agents.
How does it work?
Group agents will be able to log in and choose the dates and city as one would on any individual traveler website. They select the number of rooms (a minimum of 10) and then select between two and seven hotels from a list based on location and quality.
Once submitted, the bidding begins. At this point, the suppliers chosen have 24 hours to respond with quotes and change their bids. The hotels will be able to see what another hotel has quoted and can decide to adjust accordingly.
At the end of the 24 hours, the agent is notified and given all of the group quotes for the hotels selected. From there, agents can decide which hotel to go with — most likely the lowest price offered.
This process allows hungry hoteliers to fight for their business and to ensure that the group travelers receive the best rates. The 24-hour response time is what really sets this apart from other online group booking services.
Are there any other benefits to using the engine?
The hotel business is just the beginning — the engine is really a one-stop shop for group travel.
Once the bidding is over and the accommodation is secured, the group agent can easily pick out transfers and activities with great rates and log their room list. These automated features make planning group trips easy and convenient. We are very excited about being on the forefront of this type of technology.