Sadly, those of us traveling every week for business, moving from city to city, we don't have the time or patience to be free agents each and every week as we book our hotels. Just isn't practical or an efficient use of our time. I have no interest in using our travel agent for bookings, and already spend too much time booking flights etc....
The problem is real, the solution is difficult.
When I was traveling I always booked my own hotel, air and car rental as the travel group we were supposed to use was a complete waste of time and money. They'd charge you simply to use the services we were told we had to use which seems odd to me, so I just told our administrative secretary that I'd book the best rates and avoid paying those charges which worked out excellent until the mandate came down from high. So glad retirement came soon so I didn't have to deal with that "free agent" mentality.
Through it all the airline loyalty was great right up until something called United showed up and took Continental away, now they are taking away any perks for being loyal for all those miles and years. Marriott, well enough said, just about the only loyalty program is the car rental company which surprisingly has gotten better over the last couple of years.
jerry you're so correct, book it now or just BBQ!