Thursday, January 29, 2009

UK rates fall – the first time in four years

The first news to hit the wires on Monday continued to throw gloom into the financial markets with Hotels.com’s Hotel Price Index (HPI) revealing rates for rooms in the UK to have fallen for the first time since 2004.

The HPI indicates that in the final quarter of 2008 prices dropped 4% to an average of £97 per room per night compared to £101 a year earlier. The rates are representative of many major UK cities as hoteliers scramble to maximise occupancy over rates. However, properties in more remote regions, like Inverness in Scotland experienced a rate decline of 15%.

A new report from Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC) hospitality and leisure team claim that rates in London will decline as much as 23% in 2009. While on average it will drop by approximately 10% across the UK.

It is essential today that hoteliers focus on expanding their sales channels and market outreach. This will help to maximise opportunities and secures bookings in the short, mid and long-term. Since 1995, the internet has experienced a significant increase in bookings with travel websites gradually becoming the key source for consumer’s travel purchases.

Employing proper channel management technologies will enable hotels to identify appropriate selling rates through competitor benchmarking. Allocation mechanisms will then help to allocate inventory to the most successful and relevant channels to maximise occupancy. In a single year, total business via the internet for Thistle's 56 hotels increased 130%:

“Basically, Rate Tiger gives the hotel an understanding of what the demand is and what is happening so we choose our rate wisely," said Warren Mandelbaum, Area Revenue Manager, Thistle.

2009 is a year that requires exploring opportunities presented by online sales channels, focussing on price and offering to capture a share of the difficult market.
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