Buyers Find Room On Rates
With negotiations for 2009 hotel rates largely complete, buyers and consultants are reporting success in staving off increases in domestic rates, even in major gateway cities, as hoteliers face a bleak demand outlook of indeterminate length. "I asked for the world, and I was able to apparently get a piece of it," said Patricia Carlin, purchasing manager for global card and travel for Dublin, Calif.-based Sybase. Within the United States, Carlin mostly was able to get rates equal to or lower than 2008 levels, and she also set up multiyear agreements with several U.S. hotels. Outside the United States was slightly more difficult, but she mostly was able to keep rates flat or face very minor increases, she said. Some buyers still are wrapping up negotiations—a few more than usual, as many are facing not only a sliding outlook in the hotel industry but also instability with their own company travel budgets. Meanwhile, Kathy Pruett, senior director of consulting at BCD Travel consulting arm Advito, reported that preliminary estimates for clients' 2009 hotel rates had buyers paying a range of 3 percent less to 3 percent more for hotels in North America.