Headline writers – even in travel trade publications – are most focused on words that drive likes, shares, and clicks on immediate news. That semi-obvious conclusion can be seen in recent news stories about softening business travel trends. GBTA downscaled their full-year 2016 projections, and Hyatt revised their 2016 revenue-per-available-room figures from a 3-5 percent jump down to a 2-3 percent increase.
At last month’s GBTA conference, travel buyers acknowledged that hoteliers are less aggressive in some markets as they discuss rate increases for 2017. This is clearly an acknowledgement that revenue managers at some hotel chains are sensitive to trends we are seeing now, and are willing to negotiate in an effort to lock in volume from corporate programs for the new year.
For savvy North American travel managers that look ahead, the U.S. projections GBTA shared in its July report truly drive home the importance of securing a great deal with your preferred hotel partners during the current RFP season. GBTA foresees U.S. business travel spend to increase 4.2 percent in 2017, up from only 0.9 percent this year. GBTA also forecasts pent-up group travel spend skyrocketing 5.6 percent next year, after a projected decrease of 0.7 percent in 2016. Even if the reality falls short of those metrics, it’s obvious that hotels will be more full, and room rate flexibility may not be in the cards as hotel revenue managers optimize as they’ve done in recent years.
Bottom line….travel managers need to seize the day as summer wanes and the hard hotel negotiating truly commences over the next couple of months. Get your best data aggregated, know where your company may be increasing or decreasing travel next year, and leverage the entirety of your lodging spend (transient + meetings) to get the best deal you can…while the getting is good.