OUR GREAT MINDS

by Tina Olivero

LodgeLink: “Our vision is to transform workforce travel”

LodgeLink is a convenient online booking site with two major goals, to help workers find quality accommodations that best meets their needs, and help owners of accommodations fill their open rooms.

With over 75,000 rooms and more than 700 properties listed throughout Canada and the United States, LodgeLink is one of the largest and fastest growing databases of hotels and lodges in North America.

LodgeLink has grown rapidly since its initial commercial launch in late 2017 and now serves more than 600 corporate customers in construction, infrastructure, oil and gas, forestry, mining, transportation and other diverse industries.

The OGM:
1. Tell us a little about you and how you came up with this concept.

Lodgelink: My colleagues and I have been in the business of workforce accommodations for years. We know that managing the logistics of accommodating large crews is complicated. In 2016, we recognized a gap where a large volume of companies and their employees were travelling long distances to get to work, unaware of lodging options near their remote jobsites. Closer accommodations often included company specific workforce camps that were generally unused after a project was complete. No travel agent or online booking site had access to these beds, and there were no existing platforms to utilize these unused camps to the benefit of remote working crews. That’s when the concept of LodgeLink was created. We believed an online platform could help businesses by providing more visibility to hotel and remote lodge options closer to worksites. In addition to expanding accommodation options for crews, the concept also helps camp owners fill excess capacity in their facilities.  

The OGM:
2. What is the vision for LodgeLink and how does it support company travel?

LodgeLink: LodgeLink’s vision is to transform workforce travel for businesses. We’re doing things differently to transform workforce travel by building our LodgeLink online platform and service around the needs of those that manage crew accommodations. LodgeLink empowers companies with enhanced search functionality with features such as: large truck parking, 24/7 meal service, reduced rates, simplified payment terms and consolidated invoicing, and aggregated budget tracking and reporting in one online place. It also improves productivity of workers on the road by getting them closer to project worksites and enables better compliance with company travel management policies.

The OGM:
3. What’s different about LodgeLink compared to other accommodation platforms like AirBnB?

LodgeLink: LodgeLink is a business to business partner and platform. We are different from Expedia and Airbnb because we are a niche platform customized towards the needs of workers and work crews. Airbnb and Expedia have been successful with a product offering that meets the generic needs of a very broad customer base. LodgeLink’s target customer – workers and work crews – have different needs and require a different product. We’ve seen this trend many times with demand for broad marketplaces shifting over time towards more vertical or niche platforms for specific product categories. We’ve noticed the market rewards platforms that provide a superior experience to a specific target market. LodgeLink is different than Expedia or Airbnb because we put the needs of work crews at the center of everything we do: Workers don’t care about waterslides and swimming pools. They are looking for things like large-truck parking and 24/7 meal service. We make these amenities easier to search and filter by. Work crews often have large groups of people that travel frequently. We allow companies to pre-load crew lists to avoid repetitive data entry when making reservations. Most of the work crew have the same travel days, but there are always a few that come late or leave early. We built a booking flow to help our customers better manage complex shift rotations. Most companies need to keep track of costs with certain codes like AFE, Purchase Order or Job Numbers. We built a checkout process to empower customers to track this info at the time of booking. This allows us to consolidate invoices for a whole week or month based on and provide the customer with one consolidated bill instead of an invoice for each guest at each property each night. The time savings add up quickly. By building features around the unique needs of workers and crews, while continuing to work with our customers to improve their user experience, we can transform the way they manage their workforce travel.

The OGM:
4. How do you think this software will best suit the oil and gas industry in Atlantic Canada and Western Canada?

LodgeLink: LodgeLink provides an online marketplace to help companies find, book and manage crew accommodations. We also help open camp providers, which operate hotel-style accommodations in more remote locations and underutilized lodges in dedicated locations, to recover costs by listing on LodgeLink and sell excess inventory. Our team has years of experience in workforce accommodation, and we know how complicated managing crew accommodation is. Sometimes travel is simple and straightforward, but often it can be complex and cumbersome. LodgeLink offers intuitive technology to handle any workforce travel scenario in a simplified way. Whether a company needs to send a group of 15 people to a jobsite near Rocky Mountain House, or an Executive to remote location, LodgeLink has the solution.

We have a several great examples of oil and gas companies that are using our service on a regular basis. The first is an oilfield services company that has numerous branch offices in various locations across Western Canada. We pre-loaded their crew lists to expedite their reservation process and set up Cost Tracking Codes for each of their 14 branches. When they compared our service to a traditional travel management company or arranging their own travel, they estimated LodgeLink saves them between 11-25% and has freed up their administrative teams. Many of the companies we deal with have annual accommodation spend of $500K – $2M, so the savings can be quite meaningful. The second is a major producer that uses LodgeLink to avoid markup on accommodations from their subcontractors. Like most companies, our customer doesn’t want the headache of managing accommodations for their subcontractors; however, they also don’t like paying a 15% markup on their subcontractor’s accommodation. By granting their subs access to specific Cost Tracking Codes (AFE’s) on the LodgeLink platform, the subcontractors book and manage their own accommodation. LodgeLink consolidates the charges for all subs on each Cost Tracking Code and sends streamlined bills to the prime contractor (our EP customer). In just two years, this customer has saved over $800K at just one key property.

Technology is changing all aspects of our lives and LodgeLink is on the forefront of this change for workforce travel. Our growth is driven by businesses that want to adopt technology that empowers them to become more efficient and have visibility and control over their travel management programs. LodgeLink is growing quickly with more than 700 properties online in Canada and the United States, including the highly-active Permian Basin region of Texas and New Mexico.  

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