Sabre to Overhaul Hotel Rate Negotiation Process with New Simplified, Web-based Solution for Corporate Travel

Acquisition of BidStork provides first step for complete negotiation service for hoteliers and corporate travel buyers

SOUTHLAKE, TX – July 15, 2008 — Sabre Travel Network has announced a new streamlined, easy-to-use and much more effective rate negotiation and auditing service for corporations, their travel management companies and hoteliers.

The new solution addresses what has been a huge problem cited by hoteliers, corporations and their travel management companies for some time: every fall, corporations and hoteliers start their annual “dance of the new negotiated rates” for the following year. The “dance,” however, has been less than elegant.

In announcing the new service, Sabre also announced the acquisition of BidStork, which has quickly become recognized by corporations as a far more elegant solution than anything that exists in the marketplace for their rate negotiation process with hoteliers.

At its core, BidStork, which was launched in 2006, is a web-based application that creates, delivers and manages hotel requests for proposals (RFPs). It allows travel professionals to quickly and easily assemble an NBTA-compliant RFP package through an online RFP wizard. Additionally, corporate travel buyers can source and map hotels in proximity to relevant travel destinations, deliver the RFP package, interactively negotiate rates and create final contracts — culminating in a best-in-class online hotel directory that clients rave about.

“BidStork is simply the best RFP tool out there, hands down,” said Dona Kalebic, hotel RFP specialist at Adelman Travel.

Through the new comprehensive rate negotiation service, Sabre is addressing the typical, time-consuming, manual and often “clunky” process of the annual negotiated rate process between corporate travel management and hoteliers. To date, this has involved soliciting, bidding and negotiating rates, then loading the thousands of rates – or hundreds of thousands or rates in the case of some very large corporate customers that have started using BidStork – after completing the negotiated rates process each year. And then there is the “after-dance” once all rates are loaded and effective and the rate auditing process kicks in – and for negotiated rates, current solutions have been very manual, time consuming and limited in functionality.

The result of this inefficient process: many, many cases of either negotiated rates showing up incorrectly or not showing up at all during the shopping and booking of travel. Sabre estimates that there are four million annual “passive” bookings associated with travel agents not being able to find the negotiated rates. For corporations, this can lead to inconsistent and higher travel spend, and lost revenue opportunities for hoteliers and travel agencies.

“Our mission at BidStork has always been to provide leading-edge RFP software at incredibly low prices, then leverage that into thousands of buy side (hotel side) subscribers,” said Joseph Friedman, founder and president of BidStork. “Our initial version of the software rapidly penetrated the market by allowing travel managers, travel agencies and procurement departments to easily find, negotiate and contract with hotels and hotel chains worldwide. The affiliation with Sabre is really exciting and will allow us to make the process a truly synchronized dance for corporate travel and the hospitality industry worldwide.”

Sabre is the first global distribution system to offer a hotel RFP tool, and the negotiated rate auditing option, planned to be added later this year for both corporate customers and hoteliers, will provide a vast improvement to current marketplace solutions. GetThere customers will get the additional efficiency and cost savings of automated population of hotel profiles.

“The result of bringing these capabilities together is that Sabre corporate agencies and corporate customers will now have a fully integrated RFP management process via an easy-to-use online tool – a critical piece of a travel procurement program – that until now was not possible since no viable solutions existed in the marketplace,” said Greg Webb, chief marketing officer for Sabre.

“BidStork is really a story of the little company that could. With only seven people, including contracted employees, this small company is helping change the way corporations and the hospitality marketplace interact,” Webb said. “They took what had been seen by many as an impossibly complicated process and applied their magic for a simplified solution. Big corporations and hoteliers are clamoring to get a place in line to be next on the list to get this capability, especially when we talk to them about how this capability is forming the core to a completely new way to handle and streamline the hotel rate discussions and process.”

Bill Ritchie, corporate travel manager for Aerojet, a BidStork customer, agrees: “The simplicity that the BidStork solution provides gives the ability to ’just get to it and do it,’ rather than relying on significant manual involvement or an understanding of the underlying technology. And most important, it means immediate efficiencies gained, as well as ensuring we are getting the rates we negotiated – and taking out the additional costs to our travel spend that have resulted from not having an efficient way to monitor this in the past.”

The new service will provide corporate travel buyers a way to not only check the rates, but easily grab a screen shot and send directly to a hotelier. In capabilities that will be provided later this year, hoteliers will not have to wait until they are notified about the discrepancy – the new service will provide the capability for hoteliers to have the same view as those that are making the travel bookings – meaning hoteliers will have viewership of what agencies and corporations see when making bookings and ensure that what is being displayed is in synch with the negotiated rates.

Hoteliers have already been impressed by the current capabilities of BidStork: “I love seeing all of our efforts materialize into the renewal of accounts and the prospect of new ones,” said Jennifer Rota, director of Sales for The Iroquois New York. “I especially enjoy using a service like BidStork that allows us to complete the RFP quickly and efficiently.”

In research conducted with GetThere customers in May, 87 percent of respondents cited hotel negotiated rate audit capability as the most important need among 13 business travel procurement capabilities.

BidStork has estimated that 70 percent of the unnecessary time and steps of doing a program manually can be eliminated with solutions it provides — by eliminating paper redundant processing, exhaustive hotel research and voicemail merry-go-round.

Current capabilities that are immediately available to all Sabre customers include:
o Request for Proposal (RFP) tool for agencies and corporations
o Hotel rate auditing tool for agencies and corporations
o Robust reporting and exporting capabilities for agencies and corporations.
o Competitive bidding for hoteliers, which enables hotel properties to obtain qualified sales leads

Additional and enhanced capabilities that will be available this year and early in 2009 include:
o Rate audit tool for hoteliers
o RFP Management and reporting tools for hoteliers
o Benchmark reports for agencies and corporations
o Enhanced multi-GDS rate audit capabilities for agencies and corporations
o Enhanced robust Digital Media of hotels worldwide
o Real time updates for Hotel Brand and Name changes.

“To me, this is what technology should be about – simplifying the complicated, especially for pressing industry needs,” said Webb. “On the surface, a new rate negotiation service may not sound like something to get excited about. However, many of our customers are seeing game-changing potential with this new service.”

By the numbers:
Current BidStork customers include a who’s who in travel: Wal-Mart, Google, Nike, Accenture, Best Buy, Levi, Travelocity, Charles Schwab, Campbell’s Soup and nearly 300 others. In 2007, BidStork:
• Helped corporate travel buyers/managers prepare and send nearly 40,000 RFPs
• Helped hoteliers respond to over 31,000 RFPs
• Represented nearly 10,000 destinations in RFP responses with over 800 average (user) estimated room nights per destination.