Conference News January 2018 - Page 33

33 Hoteliers Business A new survey by LateRooms. com Business reveals that 41% of employees want to travel more for business, and just under a quarter (23%) now request an additional night’s stay to explore their location. The survey supports the continued boom in bleisure travel in 2017, where people use business travel as an opportunity to explore and experience new locations. The research also highlighted that UK locations within an easy drive or train ride were 10 times more popular choices for business travel than flights overseas. London, the Lake District, Edinburgh and Manchester came out as the top destinations for employees to visit in 2017, and Business predicts this trend will continue through to 2018. The survey also looked at the different hotel preferences when booking for business travel. While Wi-Fi and connectivity continue to be a priority for business bookers, Business also identified that 73% of employees seek leisure facilities (gym, pool, sauna) when travelling, and 39% search for a hotel with an on-site bar or restaurant. Graeme Descoteaux, head of LateRooms for Business, said: “The demand for staycations within both the consumer and business travel markets shows no signs of abating, and employees are now being savvy with their business bookings, using them as an opportunity to take a night away and enjoy cost-effective access to the best of the UK.” ith the rise of websites geared to booking direct in the leisure and travel sector, not to mention the power of influencer and review sites such as TripAdvisor, hotels have had to learn new paradigms for prioritising in terms of booking channels. The agency commission model for booking meeting venues has been increasingly questioned, not least within a new demanding context of procurement departments driving ROI methodology. Noting these shifting sands that cover the tectonic plates of booking processes, many hotels have chosen to step up their own direct sales and marketing efforts. Gemma Wilford, revenue manager at the Oxford Belfry is one who believes “a combination of activities works best” when chasing meetings and events bookings. “Our director of sales speaks at a number of industry and networking events to make connections. Business also comes from relationships with local business parks who supply significant repeat bookings,” she says. If price might be a deciding factor on the leisure side, Wilford is one of those convinced that factors such as industry accreditations and customer service have a greater impact on whether an events enquiry is progressed. The Oxford Belfy team relies heavily on a variety of software platforms and booking sites, which, Wilford says, are also “useful for visibility within the industry”. Down at the Crowne Plaza Docklands, Elzbieta Nowacka, director of sales and marketing, says her meetings team uses agencies, software platforms and third party websites to get in front of event bookers, “and we have an active presence at trade shows like Confex and the PA Show”. “To convert enquiries, we find that our VenueVerdict The hotel expectation CN checks with some selected hoteliers to see how sourcing of their meetings and events business is adapting to new demands