Friday 25 May 2018

It can pay to check out hotel rate patterns before booking

Medium-priced hotels which attract the bulk of business travellers can offer the best savings (stock photo)
Medium-priced hotels which attract the bulk of business travellers can offer the best savings (stock photo)
Mark Evans

Mark Evans

It goes without saying that the earlier you book your business traveller's hotel room, then the better the rate. Right? Not necessarily, data research by a travel company SAP Concur has found.

The global player provides high-tech expenses management solutions for travellers on the road, and a bit of number-crunching has thrown up some surprising results.

"Contrary to what you may think, the longer you wait to book your hotel room the cheaper it becomes," Chris Baker, managing director of UK Enterprise at SAP Concur told the Sunday Independent recently in London.

"Thirty days before your stay you're paying up to 10pc more than the average - what's more shocking is that if you book on the day on which you're staying, or close to the day, you could be paying 20pc less than the average."

And the data has shown some quirks in some of the major European cities - including London, Paris and Frankfurt - where Irish corporates visit. Baker said that London's most expensive hotels tend to be around 50pc above the overall averages, whereas the lower-priced hotels are just 25pc below the line.

The data found that low-priced hotels tend to be consistent in pricing, "but there is a saving to be made if you book later, but not much", said Baker.

"If you're in the medium-priced range - where most business people will be - there's "quite a saving, even a week out or a day out."

He said the price falls in business-oriented Frankfurt are quite steep, with more expensive hotels dropping 15-20pc in the last week, and also major savings to be made in Paris, particularly in Paris, where the higher-end hotels are ultra-expensive.

He does concede that travel managers in corporations - and their travel planning partners - might still ignore the benefits. Baker admits that "the risk of saving money by not booking is that you might not get a hotel room or can only find a location where you need to get a cab, which defeats the object. No one would take that risk on the late side of the chart but let's say a week out - which is reasonable to do - that can still be a 30pc difference in prices. All we're saying to travel managers is, look at this data and you might want to change your booking policy or strategy and save money." The opposite is the case with getting that all-important plane seat, however, Baker said. Although tech companies which can rebook flights to avail of lower air fares are on the rise - and featured in this column recently - it's still not the same as hotel planning.

"The airlines want to know their plane is full as early as possible so they can be comfortable, so typically with them the longer out you book the cheaper it becomes. Try booking a business-class fare to New York with a few days' notice - you could pay $10,000 not a couple of thousand."

 

As belts are tightening a bit more in Middle Eastern aviation, Etihad Airways recently announced it's to suspend its service from its Abu Dhabi hub to Perth in Australia. Etihad was the first of the Gulf carriers to open up the Far East and Australasia to Irish passengers, and the Perth route was a mainstay for Irish workers and the family and friends market alike.

The route will be axed effective from October 1 next. The UAE airline said the decision is "part of an ongoing review of our network performance". The carrier will be working along with travel management companies to notify travellers of the changes to their itineraries and "accommodate them on alternative flights".

The decision to cancel the EY486/487 services follows the recent announcement that it's ending its Edinburgh-Abu Dhabi service, and such moves are part of a wider review of operations to improve profitability.

Competition is keen Down Under this year, with the much-hyped launch of the Qantas non-stop service from London to Perth, which will target Irish business travellers, and the launch in June of Cathay Pacific's direct route from Dublin to its Hong Kong hub, offering onward connections.

Etihad said that "the cancellation of the Perth route is one of several adjustments that we are making to our network in 2018 to improve system profitability".

It added, however, that it "is committed to the Australian market and continues to offer regular schedules to its key gateways across Australia through Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, all of which are major markets for the airline".

Sunday Indo Business

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