Corporate Travel Booming, Great Hotels of the World Reports

The corporate travel market is back, according to Great Hotels of the World, which announced yesterday a 19 percent increase in corporate bookings in the first quarter of 2011, compared to the same period in 2010.

A London-based hotel sales and marketing alliance that represents more than 250 hotels around the world — including 93 in the United States — Great Hotels said the value of corporate travel also increasing, alongside the volume, as the average transaction value of bookings made at its hotels has increased 23 percent so far this year. The average length of stay, meanwhile, has increased to 3.7 nights.

"Volumes have increased in key corporate cities such as Paris, Barcelona, Lisbon and Moscow, which account for most of the growth we've seen," said John Clarke, director of sales and marketing at Great Hotels. "The value of each transaction has also seen an upturn to pre-recession levels. 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."

Moving into the rest of 2011 and 2012, corporate travel buyers are placing greater emphasis on customer service, amenities and flexible terms, according to Great Hotels, which said the No. 1 amenity among its corporate customers is free Internet access, followed by breakfast, parking and business center access.

"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 continued. "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."