Dwellworks Living Global Corporate Housing Solutions - Paris France Streets

Reimagining Partnerships Part 1: Sharing the Administrative Effort

It’s not often that we get an opportunity to hit a reset button, but after 18 months of little or no business travel, many companies are getting just that. Just as consumer culture is redefining what is normal in the way we live and work, employers and travel program leaders around the world are taking this opportunity to re-evaluate and reset their travel programs.

In addition to setting new budgets and redefining their approved reasons for travel, many program managers are also taking a fresh look at vendor relationships. At the onset of the pandemic, transactional relationships often resulted in high cancellation fees and other expenses. In contrast, where stronger, mutual relationships with vendor-partners existed, suppliers committed to seeking creative solutions that were beneficial to all parties. Going forward, travel buyers around the globe are now seeking to build more of these types of mutual partnerships, while providing their employees with the best (and safest) travel experience.

Lodging partners, in particular, play a critical role in employee travel and in the travel expense value chain. Regardless of the location or duration of the trip, employees are likely to spend the lion’s-share of their travel time and budget in the care of these partners. Failures related to accommodations can be dramatically felt by multiple stakeholders within an organization. In this two-part series, we will take a look at the top factors to consider when evaluating and selecting the best accommodation partners.

We will start by taking a look at the critical factors to consider when working with a partner on all facets of administering a global travel program. Partners who do well in these areas and demonstrate their capabilities in managing administrative responsibilities are also key contributors to process management and efficiency, which can ultimately both save cost and improve the traveler experience. In our next blog, we will review the factors which most directly impact the traveler experience.

Global and Local Alignment

Whether a travel program is global, regional, or domestic, managing multiple vendors is challenging to say the least. Sourcing accommodations globally can be particularly challenging, as time zones, language barriers, and property and service standards can vary significantly in different parts of the world.

It’s difficult to consistently source high-quality lodging in employee-preferred, close-to-the office neighborhoods without actually visiting the markets, but few (if any) travel departments, or even dedicated accommodations providers, have the resources to personally vet accommodations in every city.  A true vendor partner will not only source accommodation options, but also locally vet neighborhoods, properties and even individual units to ensure they meet defined quality, service, safety and cleanliness standards. The right accommodations partner should have the local teams needed to make this happen in key markets around the globe. It’s important to confirm the actual size and scope of a partner’s presence, to ensure that the lodging provided will live up to the promise.   Dwellworks Living, for example, has a global footprint of 1500 in-market housing and destination consultants, who serve as an extension of our service and supplier development teams.  These local experts source and validate housing options that are consistent with our internal and client requirements, and supplement the reporting and documentation requirements that we require of housing suppliers.

Ease of Use – For the Whole Team

The best partners add real value that can benefit multiple departments. Administrative tasks such as negotiating rates and terms, reconciling and paying invoices, managing service issues, mitigating risk and auditing performance throughout the year are all time-intensive activities. Significant efficiencies can be gained by working with a solutions partner who manages supplier partners and aligns to a company’s administrative needs.

A full service partner should be able to provide consolidated invoicing which takes into account currency exchange rates incurred for international lodging. This can save hours of work for the accounts payable team each month, and also streamline financial audits. A global solutions partner should also be able to provide detailed service level and cost reporting, which can help Project Managers track spend and manage programs for their internal stakeholders. Additionally, partners who provide 24/7 guest and client services, in addition to around the clock supplier management, booking and administration, can reduce or eliminate the need for the travel department to serve as a customer-service go-between for  after-hours phone calls and emails from travelers in need of service.  

Type of Accommodations

We’ve seen that, for some employees, working from home and in close proximity to their families has now become the preferred work model. These employees are now taking those expectations and preferences ‘on the road.’ Traveling employees on longer assignments are increasingly looking for spaces that can accommodate their families while they are on the road, effectively extending their ‘work from home’ lifestyle so that their quality of life in an alternative location can be bolstered by family vacations and recreational time. For many, these longer, more impactful trips are favored in lieu of more frequent trips and more time away from the family. Serviced apartments and corporate housing have risen as an ideal solution for companies who want to meet their employees’ needs for work-life balance as they begin to travel again.

These short term rentals offer all of the amenities of a hotel, but with the added space of an entire apartment. Complete with fully-equipped kitchens, 1-3 separate bedrooms, living rooms and dining or work spaces, and even washers and dryers, these alternative accommodations make it easier to maintain work-life balance and meet family commitments while traveling.

Duty of Care

Prior to the pandemic, Duty of Care was most typically defined as a compliance, health, safety and emergency management protocol. Recent events have shifted the perspective of Duty of Care, which may now more commonly be thought of as a company’s Duty to Care for the employees who are traveling to fulfill the corporate mission. Employees increasingly need to feel confident that their employers are taking formal measures to ensure that they are not only safe, but well cared for.  Employees expect safe and sanitary conditions, of course, and also seeking more employer sensitivity to the ongoing stress associated with the changes brought on by the pandemic.

Accommodations partners play a key role in the duty to care for traveling employees. In addition to conforming to quality, cleanliness and safety standards at every property, a true partner is also an extension of the employer’s travel management team. To help companies keep track of where employees are located, an accommodations partner can provide regular detailed reporting of all in-house guests. This list, which can be delivered automatically through API integrations, becomes the first shared resource to check in the event of an emergency. If a high-impact event takes place or is imminent in a destination city, a good partner will also take a key role in the response – helping to make sure that every employee and family member is personally contacted, that their safety is accounted for, that the employer and travel partner is regularly updated, and that alternative accommodations are found if needed.

Customer Service and Responsiveness

Virtually every travel manager has experienced a weekend or after-hours call from a traveler who has arrived at their destination only to discover a problem with their reservation, or an in-house guest who has a service issue that they may not have been able to get resolved on-site. Some will say it comes with the territory, but a true accommodations partner assumes responsibility to manage these situations proactively, and will act as the front line of communications and issue management.  

Whether your teams travel around the world or around the country, it is important to choose a partner who will be there for them with 24/7 customer support, and who has documented processes, service teams, and service level agreements for responding to issues of any kind, in any part of the world. Your accommodations partner should be your first line of response for traveling employees, to take care of any of the issues or questions that inevitably arise – before they become problems.

Additional Services and Support

Just as managing the day-to-day activity of multiple accommodations partners creates redundant work effort for travel managers, re-evaluating multiple service vendors across related areas of your business can also create inefficiencies.  Travel managers can free-up much needed time to focus on more strategic responsibilities when they rely on partners who offer complementary services. This type of vendor consolidation can help to better control service levels and costs across the entire travel and talent management program.

For example, businesses who relocate key talent or send employees on long-term assignments will often find that their team members need assistance with preparing for their departure, orienting themselves to the neighborhood, getting their families settled, and may even need help buying or selling a home. Dwellworks Living has an established global footprint and reputation for offering these types of destination services, which can help employees more quickly adapt and achieve personal and professional success on their remote assignment. 

Financial Strength and Stability

It’s an unfortunate economic fact that some suppliers and partners in the hospitality industry have found themselves upended by the pandemic. To ensure that any vendor-partner relationship will be a long and fruitful one, it is important to look at the financial strength of your accommodations partners, whether new or pre-existing.

At Dwellworks Living, we pride ourselves on fiscally responsible growth, based in part on a flexible business and inventory model that can easily respond to changes in demand.  We have consistently been able secure reasonable terms, controlled cancellations and exceptions-costs, and have maintained ongoing access to housing supply.  Being a creditworthy, on-time-payment company with reliable investment and banking partners has engendered confidence and loyalty from our suppliers.

As companies take this opportunity to reevaluate their business travel and talent mobility programs, Dwellworks Living stands ready to foster strong, long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships that are built on of much more than properties and rates.

Contact us for more information on how we can help.


Dwellworks Living: Global Solutions for Corporate Accommodations 

Dwellworks Living is committed to providing our clients and their employees with the best possible corporate housing and serviced accommodations experience. With a global network of property partners, a tri-regional team of customer experience and supply chain professionals, and a wide range of services for global mobility and travel customers, Dwellworks Living can provide the perfect corporate housing solution for any need or budget.

Dwellworks Living is the global corporate housing solution of Dwellworks, an award-winning, business-to-business provider of global mobility and business travel services. As a global leader in corporate housing and serviced accommodations solutions, Dwellworks Living is uniquely positioned to meet the temporary living needs of businesses and their employees who are relocating or traveling on short-, medium- or extended-stays. With 60,000 high-quality professionally managed properties in over 125 countries worldwide, Dwellworks Living is the preferred housing solutions partner of many Fortune 1000 and leading relocation management companies.

Dwellworks Living's corporate housing and serviced accommodations solutions are designed to help businesses attract and retain top talent, support employee productivity, and ensure a smooth and successful relocation or business travel experience. In addition to our core global accommodations management services, Dwellworks Living, through our worldwide network of local experts, is uniquely capable of offering our clients expanded and related services, such as area orientations, group move assistance, destination services and intercultural training.

Whether you have corporate housing needs for an individual employee or a large team, Dwellworks Living can provide the serviced accommodations solutions you need anywhere in the world to ensure a safe and successful stay. Please contact us to learn more or visit our Properties page to begin your search for global corporate housing accommodations.

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