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Thursday, 19 January 2012

2012: A big year for UK hotels

On behalf of everyone at Conferma, I would like to begin this blog entry by wishing all our customers and partners a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

As Conferma’s booking volumes increase around the world, 2012 will present particular issues, challenges and opportunities for the T&E sector in the UK. With the advent of London 2012 and Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, London is preparing to welcome athletes, visitors, media, sponsors and dignitaries from across the globe. Therefore, as global focus centres not only on the capital, but also other British cities and regions, 2012 will have considerable implications for the T&E sector.

Given the significance, interest and prestige surrounding London 2012 and the Jubilee celebrations, the temptation for TMCs will be to centre their focus on the capital. However with events for both landmark occasions being staged in venues across the country, TMCs will also need to reinforce their coverage in alternate locations. Olympic event hosts outside the capital include Windsor, Weymouth, Portland, Broxbourne, Benfleet, Wembley, Glasgow, Cardiff, Manchester and Newcastle. Moreover, flagship annual events on the British calendar, including the Edinburgh Festival, the British Grand Prix, the Open Championship and the World Travel Market will ensure that the T&E sector cannot afford to take its eye off business as usual amidst the furore of the Games and the Jubilee.

Furthermore, the anticipated influx of international officials and tourists will inevitably result in increased hotel prices. Indeed, rates currently stand at 30% higher than average for June and July. TMCs will be required to demonstrate the capability to process more and larger transactions than ever before. Large visitor numbers and the mayhem that will inevitably ensue, particularly in London, also mean that the importance of forward bookings and planning ahead cannot be overemphasised. This ability to manage large volumes of bookings and transactions will provide agencies the opportunity to demonstrate their value to large corporate companies and become the TMC of choice. Indeed, hoteliers are likely to give priority availability to TMCs with lucrative corporate clients with the highest levels of expenditure, ancillary spend and bookings for meeting space.

This is where TMCs can rely on Conferma’s platform of payment solutions to streamline their business operations. The Conferma Settlement Platform (CSP) offers TMCs an automated solution for the settlement and reconciliation of travel expense that removes manual intervention, reduces processing costs and is PCI-DSS compliant.

Despite high demand for hotel accommodation, hoteliers must guard against hiking their prices too much, so as to avoid the scenarios experienced in Athens (2004) and Vancouver (2010), when extortionate prices deterred visitors and resulted in late availability and unsold rooms. Hotels must also be mindful not to neglect service levels for their all year round business, whilst increasing expenditure to satisfy their increase in new international guests. London hotels in particular still need to cater for demand for annual events such as Royal Ascot, Wimbledon, The Proms, Henley and the Farnborough Airshow, as well as the Paralympic Games in September.

With regard to forward planning, TMCs must strike a fine balance when advising their clients. Advocating early bookings secures availability but at high rates with prohibitive booking conditions. On the other hand, later bookings leave clients vulnerable to a lack of availability, but payment does not have to be made months in advance of the Games. Alternatively, any business-critical staff may need to be accommodated outside of London, for example in Saint Albans, Watford and Reading, due to the impracticalities of commuting or being based in London during the Games.

As hotel availability becomes increasingly sparse, TMCs and corporates alike will have to look harder than usual to locate accommodation throughout the UK during the Games. This search could be made easier by Conferma’s online Self Booking Tool. Hotel Booker offers an inventory of more than 150,000 properties, including direct connections to budget hotel chains Travelodge and Premier Inn, who have both increased their presence in the capital ahead of the Olympics.

Moreover, as prices increase, merely locating accommodation will, in most cases, not suffice. Thanks to Rate Analyser, Conferma’s intelligent hotel price comparison tool, TMCs will be able to offer clients the best value rates available. Rate Analyser also provides TMCs with rate trend data for all hotel bookings and notifies users of any favourable rate changes, allowing time to rebook if appropriate. This could become an increasingly attractive proposition if prices drop to reflect last minute availability in the build-up to London 2012.

2012 holds many challenges in store for the T&E sector. Yet many opportunities also lie in prospect. I would like to conclude this blog by expressing Conferma’s commitment to overcoming these challenges and seizing these opportunities in collaboration with our existing partners, whilst expanding our portfolio to work with new partners.    



1 comment:

  1. Olympics this 2012 give a lot of opportunity to all hotel in UK That was a good news for all hotels in London and in UK.