A recent report into corporate travel revealed that bookings for premium, 5 star hotel rooms have fallen by some 45% in the previous 12 months. The same is probably true of most 4 star hotels. No surprise there, given the current stagnation in most Western economies. Consumer accommodation lodges such as Premier Inn, on the other hand, have never had it so good in terms of occupancy levels. So, when things are bad for corporates, sometimes things are good for consumers.
For corporate groups the debate is now less about ‘can you fit us in’ more ‘can you refund us if we don’t have as many delegates as we said we would?’. Typically most hotels have very strict policies with regard to attrition, as they call it. After all, they take a booking on the basis that the room is no longer available for sale. If the client then says… ‘actually, we don’t need that room anymore’ and it’s too late to sell it on to another client, they will have lost the potential revenue. But what if they take your money, and then sell the same room on to another client? You will never know… unless you ring up a week before and ask if the hotel has any spare rooms? If they have, then they are clearly selling your room twice. There is not much you can do except refuse to give up the rooms you want to release and fill it with friends, customers, suppliers etc as you’re paying for them anyway. Perhaps one day IT systems will be so transparent that you can actually see who has bought the room you had to release and so you really will get your money back? But this would not be in the hotelier’s commercial interest would it, so it’s probably not going to happen.