Utilising a bed bank to dynamically package holidays has numerous benefits for agents. TTG rounds up the major players and their updates for the trade
Dynamic packaging may not be quite the darling of the travel industry it was a few years ago, but it’s still a lucrative route for many agencies to sell holidays.
While the Package Travel Regulations, which came into force in July 2018, have undoubtedly made selling holidays in this DIY way a potentially more complex process for agents, dynamic packaging (often known as DP) still allows agents to set their own margins rather than relying on a commission rate.
One of the major components of putting together any DP holiday is obviously buying hotel rooms, and there is a range of bed banks for agents to choose from.
While most of these bed banks have access to thousands of hotels around the world, what’s really important are their directly contracted properties, where they are more likely to be able to supply agents with better rates than those available on the open market. It’s also in the bed banks’ interests to encourage and incentivise agents to book these contracted hotels.
Some of the larger bed banks have also branched out into selling other ancillary products such as transfers, activities and sightseeing trips.
Others, such as Expedia TAAP (Travel Agent Affiliate Programme) are not really bed banks at all, but offer access to the online travel agency’s vast inventory of accommodation, flights, packages, car rentals and in-destination activities.
All the leading bed banks are also improving their technology to make it easier for agents to book their beds, including upgrading their websites and portals, as well as offering API links to allow agencies to plug the bed bank’s inventory directly into their own booking platforms.
Here’s a look at what the major bed bank players are doing and how they work with agents.
Portfolio: 300,000 hotels that are either directly contracted or through third parties, with a preferred directly contracted stock of 15,000 hotels in North Africa, Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, Madeira, Italy, Turkey, mainland Spain, Balearics, Canaries, Malta and Croatia.
Popular destinations: Italy and the US.
Latest moves: New contractors in Turkey, Portugal and the Balearics. The bed bank is looking at increasing the contracting teams to cover Dubai plus New York and Las Vegas in the US.
For agents: A soon-to-launch website with more search options as well as accommodation reviews, Google Maps, descriptions and images.
Portfolio: 180,000 hotels in 185 destinations, including 90,000 directly sourced properties with unique offers; plus 24,000 transfer routes and 18,000 activities.
Popular destinations: Turkey and Egypt. US sales are strong, particularly for Orlando, New York and Las Vegas. Mexico, the Caribbean and the UAE remain popular.
Latest moves: A focus on new partnerships with hotel chains following deals with Selina Hotels and Oyo Hotels & Homes. Turkey portfolio enhanced by agreements with local hotel companies.
For agents: A wide and competitive range of commission rates for bookings made through its website and API.
Portfolio: More than 190,000 hotels worldwide from one- to five-star properties – primarily European beach and city destinations plus long-haul luxury resorts.
Popular destinations: Short and long-haul, beach and city destinations are continuing to be very popular.
Latest moves: New direct connection with Best Western has added 5,000 hotels; also secured exclusive deals for some of the UK market’s most popular properties.
For agents: All products commissionable at 15%, while agents can use the online portal to build packages using Bookabed’s Atol. Fam trips are planned for this year.
Portfolio: 600,000 properties in 35,000 destinations worldwide, alongside flights, packages, car rentals and in-destination activities.
Popular destinations: Canada, Tahiti, Fiji and Ras Al Khaimah.
Latest moves: More than 500 properties added every day on average over the past two years.
For agents: An incentive plan with fees rising to 13% as they move up partner tiers from Standard to Platinum. B2B support has also been rolled out.
Portfolio: 106,000 properties worldwide with Stuba recently removing hotels with less than three stars – apart from 100 “carefully selected” two-star properties.
Popular destinations: The Americas, particularly Rio de Janeiro, Cancun, New Orleans and Los Angeles, have seen a surge in demand. Investing in global contracting with direct links to more than 18 global hotel chains offering improved room availability.
Latest moves: Expansion in the US, Caribbean and South America, while “strengthening” product in Spain, Portugal and Greece.
For agents: Competitive commission, plus a product segmentation filter allowing searches on criteria such as “best for” families, business, fitness/wellness, romance, luxury and foodies.
Portfolio: More than 350,000 hotels worldwide, including hotel apartments and hotels from one-star to deluxe five-star, plus 22,000 transfers and 11,000 activities.
Popular destinations: Paris, Dubai, Istanbul, Rome and Las Vegas.
Latest moves: Adding 4,200 Greek island properties plus a new tool allowing agents to view cancellations policies without going into the hotel information section.
For agents: Net rates allow agents to add their mark-up; plans to launch a customer loyalty programme with benefits based on booking levels.
Portfolio: 350,000 properties including direct contracts at 30,000 hotels and apartments, ranging from five-star international chain properties to budget independent hotels. Specialises in popular European cities.
Popular destinations: Sales to Paris, New York and Mediterranean resorts are robust. Egypt and Turkey continue to recover, while Croatia is doing well.
Latest moves: New Totalstay website includes a single search box, easily viewable cancellation terms, quote comparison and sharing feature.
For agents: Competitive commercial terms, plus regular fam trips, booking promotions
Portfolio: 12,000 directly contracted properties, mainly three- to five–star in Florida, New York, Caribbean, European cities, Mediterranean resorts, Middle East, Indian Ocean and south-east Asia.
Popular destinations: Home city Dubai remains popular, alongside Spain, Italy, Indian Ocean and US.
Latest moves: Expanding its team in the European market and establishing the brand in Asia and the Americas.
For agents: Plans to launch a new portal in 2020 offering increased functionality as well as a new agent scheme.
Portfolio: 40,000 directly contracted properties worldwide, ranging from three- to five-star hotels in major cities and holiday resorts.
Popular destinations: Mediterranean, Canaries, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, with the US seeing significant growth. Sharm el Sheikh and Tunisia are enjoying good recovery.
Latest moves: New sourcing platform allowing product to be added more quickly with plans to introduce further city and long-haul destinations. For agents: Net pricing or gross commission of 15%, plus fam trips and regular roadshows around the UK.
Portfolio: Bedbank.com has been part of the Vertical Travel Group since 1998 and offers more than 300,000 hotels worldwide, as well as 20,000 transfer routes – the brand promotes itself as a “one-stop shop” for accommodation and transfers. It also has 100 direct contracts in Greece and Cyprus including an exclusive villas programme.
For agents: Bedbank.com offers gross prices at 15% commission, as well as a range of discounts and special offers. It uses inhouse technology provided by Vertical Systems including a cheapest deals matrix to assist agents. There is also a groups and tailor-made reservations team for bespoke itineraries and offline bookings.