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Thursday 9th September, JW Marriott Grosvenor House
Travel managers are becoming increasingly open to corporate dynamic pricing structures within hotel contracts, according to a senior business travel industry figure.
Robert Hornman was talking to ABTN as his company, Worldhotels, celebrated its fortieth anniversary and the launch of two new products targeting the corporate travel market.
"I know for a fact that corporate dynamic pricing was an issue for many travel managers," he said.
"But now all of a sudden they are more open to looking at it instead of having the fixed negotiated rates."
He said this change of approach was an example of how both hoteliers and buyers who have worked together over the last two years were likely to find new ways of working post-recession.
The Dutchman joined the company - an alliance of more than 500 four and five star independent hotels across the globe - as vice president Europe Middle East and Africa and worldwide sales and distribution from Accor in 2008 and has since been promoted to the role of managing director.
His first month in the job coincided with the global financial collapse and capitulation of most of the world's economies.
Hornman said up until the credit crunch the hotel sector had been enjoying something of a golden period, with rates escalating to record levels.
However, the lifelong hotel sector employee said an era of austerity meant the landscape of doing business had changed forever.
"Everything had been going up since 2004 and buyers had to swallow ever-increasing rates.
"There was a strong focus by the hotels to get rates up and in many destinations there was a shortage of inventory, so it was a sellers market.
"It quickly turned around in 2008. RFPs were started and never completed and by March no one knew what was really going to happen and there was constant renegotiation."
Hornman accepted there had been a touch of arrogance on the side of hoteliers until the recession, but insisted there was now an opportunity for buyers and hoteliers to find more efficient ways of working.
"Throughout 2010 travel managers have been calling the shots. Now, they are saying ‘let's try to understand the situation, lets be friends again. I need inventory I won't push you as hard. I might accept the same rate or a slight increase.' So it's more or less going back to a normal level with a slight pickup.
"I think like every relationship, when you are able to fight and then kiss and make up it always strengthens the foundation.
"Everyone has learned form what has happened in the last two years, there is the potential for a new way of looking at things and maybe being less black and white and might more creative solutions."
Now in its forth decade, Worldhotels has stepped up its focus on the global corporate travel sector, aiming to entice new members away from the more traditional global hotel brands.
Hornman said the alliance was targeting 100 new members over 2010, and today announced that the Berns Hotel in Stockholm and the new Tivoli Hotel in Copenhagen had come onboard.
Earlier this year London's famous Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington signed up to the brand.
The company also aims to be ahead of the curve when it comes to technology, having launched both a smartphone website for business travellers and a self-booking tool targeting the small to medium-sized enterprise market.
Worldhotels is an independent hotel alliance that provides its members with sales and distribution, e-commerce and technology, performance and revenue management, marketing and public relations, training, conferences and strategic partnership.