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"Corporates looking for added value"
Companies should be looking to consolidate their hotel spend to leverage better rates, said Margaret Bowler, HRG's director of global hotel relations.
"Average room rates have fallen," she said at a press briefing today (November 16).
"Right now corporates are looking for added value as well as the best price.
"Corporates need to look to see where they can consolidate and get better rates."
Ms Bowler also suggested that companies should be negotiating with hotels for better terms and conditions, such as no early check out fees and favourable cancellation times.
"There is no consistency in cancellation times," she said. "Some hotels ask for a few hours notice, while some request a week."
Comparing rates regularly was also recommended. "Corporates need to continually benchmark their programmes," said Ms Bowler.
With costs at the top of the agenda for many companies, HRG has seen a rise in travellers booking non-refundable "fenced" rates with hotels, planning their travel in advance and taking the hit if they need to cancel.
Ms Bowler said: "All corporates are looking for savings and they see hotels as an area they still have not got their arms around and can get savings from."
Prices are the most important factor at the moment, with the green agenda lagging behind, she told ABTN, although companies are asking about environmental initiatives.
"Hotels continue to do things [for the environment], but right now for the corporate it's not as important as the best rate. It's about savings."
While commenting that it was still too early to predict confidently how the hotel industry would fare in 2010, Mrs Bowler estimated a flat year for hotels, with a possible decline of around 5% on last year, particularly in the UK.