Customised or Smart – What’s the Best Option for Your Hotel Rates?


Did you know that you’re able to choose what sort of hotel rates you pay for your travellers’ accommodation? That’s right, in addition to booking a hotel that suits your travellers’ location, room type, amenity and loyalty program needs, you also have options when it comes to the rates you pay.

Two of the most common rate types for businesses with frequent travellers are customised rates and SmartSTAY. Both types leverage bulk buying power to secure lower rates, but that’s about the extent of their similarities.

So, which one is the best option for your business? Well, that depends. We asked Corporate Traveller’s Product Leader, John Baty, to break down the differences between customised rates and SmartSTAY to help you identify which is the best option for your hotel program.

What are customised rates and who are they for?

Customised rates, also known as negotiated rates, are hotel accommodation rates that have been negotiated specifically for an individual business or company based on a certain number of room nights.

“Customised rates are essentially a special discounted rate, agreed between a hotel or accommodation chain and a business, in exchange for a guaranteed number of room nights, for example 100 nights, booked over a year. The business uses their bulk buying power to leverage a better daily rate for their accommodation,” says John.

Pros and cons of customised rates

The most obvious benefit of customised rates is the discount that they provide at a hotel or across a chain, says John: “This option for booking hotel rates is about consolidating savings. It’s basically a discount for buying in bulk.”

But while it might seem simple enough to guarantee a number of room nights booked throughout the year, it does need careful consideration. If you’re unable to fulfil the agreed quota, you risk losing the agreement and opportunities to negotiate with that hotel in the future.

“A business might think they want a hotel program with customised rates, but they need to understand that there is a big commitment behind it; will they reach the number of room nights required?” says John

Discounted rates for guaranteeing room nights Committed to staying at a particular property or hotel chain
Some level of flexibility with changes and cancellations Often room nights are a static rate set for the year, and promotional rates could be less (which they don’t count towards your agreed room nights)


All pros and cons are subject to the terms and conditions agreed to for the customised rates

Who are customised rates a good option for?

Customised rates might be suitable for businesses who know they’ll need a significant number of hotel room nights for their travellers, and securing a discounted rate is important. This might include businesses with employees who travel between interstate offices, or who carry out project work in another city or state, even for part of the year.

“If you know you’re going to be travelling to a specific location a certain number of times a year, this can be an effective way to secure a lower rate. But if you’re not sure, then it isn’t worth it; there are other options that might be more suitable for you,” says John.

What is SmartSTAY and why is it a good option?

If the reduced prices that come with customised rates sound great, but you can’t guarantee the room nights – or you want even more flexibility and value-adds with your hotel accommodation – then SmartSTAY is a better option for you.

SmartSTAY is our out-of-the-box solution to great hotel accommodation rates and benefits. Instead of using your bulk buying power, we use our own to secure great prices for businesses, says John: “We’ve essentially done all the ground work already; all the negotiating is done and great rates – and extras – are available without the commitment.”

Pros and cons of SmartSTAY

In addition to great rates, booking through SmartSTAY unlocks value adds that you can’t get from booking other rates, or that you would otherwise have to pay extra for, says John: “With SmartSTAY you get breakfast, free WiFi and one other value-add depending on your hotel, such as free room upgrade, early check-in or late check-out. The value of these extras makes this a cost-effective option as well.”

You’re also not locked in to a minimum number of room nights or a specific hotel, with SmartSTAY bookings available at over 3,000 hotels, for any length of stay.

And the cons? Well, we have yet to find one.

Discounted rates for staying at one of our partner hotels   -                                                                                        
Full flexibility with changes and cancellations   -                                                                                        
Book across xx hotels   -                                                                                        
Receiving up to three value-adds, including breakfast and WiFi   -                                                                                        


Who is SmartSTAY a good option for?

The simplicity of SmartSTAY means that it’s a great option for any business with employees who travel for work. Just like there are no contracts and commitments, there is no catch.

What else do you need to consider when choosing the best hotel rate?

It’s not unusual for a business to arrange their own customised rates and then bring the agreement to their Travel Manager to integrate into their travel program. But this can be a complex exercise, especially if you aren’t certain on what your needs really are.

“It can come down to having the right level of understanding when negotiating; do you know what your options are, or do you know if you want flexibility, or maximised rate discounts?” says John.

You also need to think about your employees, and whether saving some of your business’ travel budget is worth any compromise to them, says John: “You need to ask whether you’re looking after your people, because you want to keep your travellers happy as well. So, have a process around whether it’s a win-win for the business and the traveller.”

Alternatively, let us do the ground work for you, either by negotiating your customised rates or booking you through our SmartSTAY option.

“We can target a specific hotel if you know that’s what you want, or we can find a variety of suitable options and present them for you to choose from. Either way, we can give you options to make sure you’re securing the best arrangement for your needs,” says John.

Customised or Smart – the option is yours

Now that you know you have options when it comes to your accommodation rates, you won’t look at another hotel booking the same. It’s no longer a matter of whether you can get a better rate, but whether you secure a bulk discount for your business or use ours.

But if you’re still unsure about what the best option is for you, your dedicated Travel Manager is the best place to start.

  Customised SmartSTAY
Exclusive to Corporate Traveller No  Yes 
Price $$ $$
Add-ons No


  • Breakfast
  • WiFi
  • One other specific to hotel (such as free room upgrade, early check-in or late check-out)
Flexibility  + +
Availability  + (location or chain specific) +

Business negotiates themselves

Yes, however CT can also negotiate on behalf 

No, CT has already done the ground work 

Locked into room nights Yes  No