Corporate bookings up 19% this year, hotel consortium reports

LONDON Sales and marketing consortium Great Hotels of the World reports a 19% increase in corporate travel bookings from the global distribution system during the first quarter year over year, indicating growth in the corporate travel market.

Most of the growth has come from increased volumes in key corporate cities, including Paris, Barcelona, Lisbon and Moscow, says John Clarke, director of sales and marketing for the London-based consortium. “The value of each transaction has also seen an upturn to pre-recession levels,” Clarke says. “This trend indicates the beginnings of a return to pre-recession levels for the corporate travel sector as well as the economy, with more companies investing in corporate travel. However there is always caution in the marketplace, and our focus is to at least maintain current levels, if not top them.”

The average transaction value of bookings made via Great Hotels’ GDS chain code has increased by 23% year over year, and average length of stay is up to 3.7 nights. The consortium anticipates this positive growth to continue throughout 2011 and beyond.

Good customer service is being rated more highly with greater emphasis being placed on a real understanding of guest preferences, Clarke says, and thus travel buyers will aim to include more amenities and flexible terms in their negotiations. Free Internet access is the most frequent amenity requested by travel buyers, and most expect it to be included in the rate, along with breakfast, parking and access to a business center.

“The successful RFP process for 2012 is just around the corner, and hoteliers should expect to enter the next round of negotiations with an upper hand in pricing as ADR returns to pre-recession levels,” Clarke says. “As business travel makes a comeback, hoteliers are in a much better negotiating position than they were this time a couple of years ago. Dynamic pricing models are a great way to negotiate corporate rates as hoteliers can ensure they are not selling their corporate rate at an unacceptably low level. Hoteliers need to find a balance between the rate they charge and the amenities included in that rate.”