Expert insight

What is a takeover booking and how does it create potential risk?

30 November 2018

Do you book venues directly, then ask your specialist to handle payment or help you out of contract charges? You will be losing out…

A quick search here, a click there, a menu tasting here... It doesn't take a stretch of the imagination to understand why company employees may think it’s easier to book a hotel/apartment and/or venue themselves, and only call in meeting and accommodation specialists to handle payment, contracting issues, cancellation charges and invoicing.

"It's known as a takeover/out of process/bypass booking," explains Veronica Bator, M&E optimisation manager at Capita Travel and Events. "Whether it’s a hotel, apartment or venue, a customer might engage directly with them negotiating their own rates and then come to us to sort out the contract and pay the invoice. It is believed that they can negotiate a better rate with the venue directly, but they don’t always realise that we have the leverage of total spend as well as great local, national and global  relationships, to support our approach and really provide our customers with the buying power that is required to drive savings, drive value, mitigate risks for both their business and also the actual delegates/traveller/guest themselves."

Capita Travel and Events’ specialists are trained to engage at all levels from booker and stakeholder to procurement to negotiate and secure optimum price, terms and value for our customers. Our Meetings First service looks to incorporate additional extras, such as meeting rooms, refreshments or WiFi, into the deal. Its research shows that it consistently saved customers money in Edinburgh, Leeds and Manchester by handling the whole booking compared to what they've paid when handling a takeover booking.

Money saving

However, if a company goes straight to the venue and discusses price, it's very difficult for Capita Travel and Events to negotiate or add value further. The same goes for cancellations or last-minute changes to attendance, where the team warns customers that if they book directly with a venue or hotel and cancel, they will certainly be charged 100 per cent (or whatever the contract states). By contrast, its consultants are trained to negotiate out of charges, even if a contract has been signed, a task made easier thanks to the strength of the relationship it has with suppliers. Capita Travel and Events also has the ability to offset unwanted cancellation charges with other customer spend; to provide a win-win. There is never a winner with cancellation charges, however we have proven to support unwanted space with other customers’ expenditure. This is where we really add value.

"The venues look at the bigger picture," explains Bator. "They're aware that if they can reduce their rates or waive the cancellation charges for one customer, then we're likely to use them for other bookings and other customers”

In 2017, Capita Travel and Events managed to waiver over £2.4m of contracted cancellation charges for its top 10 customers. Meetings consultants' breadth of knowledge extends to new and unusual venues too...

"If a customer wants a hotel or venue on a particular date, for a certain number of delegates, they have peace of mind that we will not only meet their specifications, but will offer more on our database than standard hotels. We can suggest something unique, quirky or with a wow factor, as well as suggesting opportunist purchasing for shoulder days, bank holiday weeks, change of layout etc. The list is endless if you are not rigid with your dates and approach.

"In cities like London, where there is always something new to explore, we have a fantastic events team constantly looking for new venues, often while they're still being built, so we can suggest them to our customers."

Crisis planning

Safety and wellbeing is such a critical part of planning meetings, and there is accountability for this. It's not just illness or delegate numbers that can drastically affect a booking. Terror attacks in London and Manchester saw Capita Travel and Events' dedicated risk team immediately assess the situations on behalf of customers.

"When a situation like this happens, customers want to know where their people are, where they are travelling from," says Bator. "We use our proprietary Intelligent Traveller tracking and supporting our customers with their duty of care, and we contact all booking representatives straight away..

"In Manchester and after the Westminster Bridge attack, we contacted people with bookings that day or the following day and asked them if they wanted their plans kept in place and offered help to change them where needed. Our customers know that there is someone on the phone any time of theday who they can speak to. It's not just nine-to-five, it's a 24-hour service."


Interested? Let’s have a chat about your company’s travel, meetings and events objectives - from the stuff that keeps you awake at night, to the everyday experiences of your employees! Call us on 0330 390 0340, or submit the details below, with an idea of the times that suit you for a call.