Tripbam: Tier Shift Helps Hilton Take Corporate Share from Marriott

Corporate hotel booking volume in late January was at about 18 percent of prior-year levels, but that number is trending up, according to a new quarterly report issued by hotel reshopping platform Tripbam. The metrics included in the report are from the company’s new dashboard, made available to clients in January, which shows rate and other trends across Tripbam’s aggregate hotel bookings.

The current report used data taken on Jan. 27 for the previous 30 days and compared it with prior-year figures. Tripbam found that the length of stay during the period had increased by a tad more than a day to 3.6 days, while the average number of days booked in advance declined from 14 to nine. After reaching its peak in March and April 2020, the overall cancellation rate is back down to about 10 percent. 

Findings also showed that the average star rating across all bookings has decreased by nearly half a star, indicating that the business travel taking place—usually essential travel—is occurring at lower-tier hotels compared with one year ago. 

One effect of the downward shift in tiers is a drop in average price. The average 30-day market rate, or public rate, was down 41 percent year over year, from $205 to $120 during the report’s time period. The average corporate booked rate dropped from $175 to $116, but the downward trend is beginning to flatten. Still, that shows Covid eroded the value of corporate programs. Using these averages, the average per-room savings went from $30 to $4, or from 15 percent to 3 percent. 

This points to a shift in discounts and is likely due to the rollover of high static rates, travelers staying at hotels without a discount, a drop in last-room-available rates, and a shift to lower tiers with lower discount levels.

“To get [the savings percentage] back, you have to work out more property-level discounts and go dynamic, be creative and actually put in a bit more work to get it back to that 15 percent to 20 percent level,” Tripbam founder and CEO Steve Reynolds said. “You can’t just roll over and get a pass and let it go.” 

Another interesting finding was that Hilton Hotels & Resorts-branded properties had gained 43 percent in corporate market share compared with the same period last year, while Marriott International-branded hotels decreased 22 percent. 

“The fact that Hilton and Marriott are closer in overall market share than pre-Covid was surprising,” Reynolds said. “Marriott had this huge lead. Now they are more equal because of the increase in essential travel and the type of hotels that are booked.” 

The report cites a higher preponderance of four- and five-starred properties in Marriott’s portfolio than Hilton’s. But Tripbam does not believe the trend will continue once non-essential travel resumes. The analysis showed Marriott, Radisson Hotel Group and Hyatt Hotels Corp. as the most affected in terms of the greatest year-over-year reductions in rates, while Hilton, InterContinental Hotels Group and Accor were less affected.

Reynolds added that booking volumes were on an upward trajectory through October, then fell back as expected during the holidays. But since then, they have started picking up again. “It’ll be interesting to see if the trend continues. It all depends on the vaccine and how quickly people get back on airplanes,” he said. “Maybe the second quarter could be a great quarter for us. … If we can get back to [the October numbers], we are on the road to recovery. Then the question is, what does that path look like, and how steep will it be?”

Reynolds said Tripbam developed the new dashboard because it was getting calls from consulting firms and research companies asking for insight, by region, country, brand and chain. “Rather than do analysis one-off for each call, we created the dashboard,” Reynolds said. “As we built it, we saw more insights into the data that we thought every customer would find interesting.” 

Reynolds added, “Subscribers are using it to help determine strategy. Things are changing on almost a day-by-day basis. It’s important to stay on top of it while negotiating deals and figuring out your strategy for static versus dynamic [rates].” 

Taking Shanghai as an example, even though there is a year-over-year drop in volume, hotels in the city have kept their average rate almost the same. “So as a travel manager, don’t expect big discounting in Shanghai or China at all,” Reynolds said. “We are seeing a lot of U.S. flights to Shanghai for bookings for clients. High-tech hasn’t fallen off hardly at all.”

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