Fairmont Southampton sees group bookings rise 50%
Business travel is showing signs of recovery according to experts who work in the industry, with one major hotel's group bookings up 50 percent this year.
This follows an increase in the number of business travellers visiting Bermuda in 2010 to 45,393, a recovery that is heading towards pre-crisis levels.
The number of business travellers peaked at 48,762 in 2007 and then plunged by more than 10,000 the following year according to the latest Government figures.
But convention bookings dropped dramatically with the number of visitors declining to 3,064 last year from a high of 22,733 two years previous.
Norman Mastalir, general manager of Fairmont Southampton, said that group bookings were up 50 percent on last year.
“The group business is definitely up on 2011,” he said.
Mr Mastalir said that a lot of the industries such as insurance, medical and pharmaceutical, which traditionally brought in big groups to their conferences, were coming back and booking up early.
He said that despite a lot of conference organisers and co-ordinators enquiring about availability and rates there was a lot of competition in the US putting downward pressure on rates.
“It is about how we balance getting the volume back up and getting the rates we need to make it good for business,” he said.
British Airways' Bermuda manager Marianne Wilcox said that the airline was continuing to see steady numbers of passengers flying business and first class.
“Basically the business travel that we have seen has been relatively stable, particularly since we have gone back to daily flights now,” she said.
She said that while some local companies had downgraded to premium economy class, bookings by international firms had remained unchanged.
Carl Paiva, CEO of C-Travel, whose company only does outbound corporate travel, said that business had been very busy compared to last year.
“There was a slump between 2008 and 2010, but we are now noticing a lot more new corporate business,” he said.
He put the rise in trade down to corporate restructurings and new companies setting up on the Island.
Meyer-Franklin Travel president Cheryl Hayward-Chew said that business travel for companies based in Bermuda was up slightly despite some of the firms expanding or contracting and staff who worked in international business leaving the Island.
“It depends on where they are in their business cycle,” she said.
“We are not seeing a shrinkage or decrease in our business travel.
“I think there is a need, because Bermuda is international, to have a qualified agent who knows how to do bookings and manage air travel properly - which for a business, is well worth it.”
Fairmont has launched a number of incentives to attract the business traveller to Bermuda, including the ‘Tea and Cakes' project designed by Shelley Meszoly, Fairmont Bermuda's regional director of sales and marketing, and marketing agency Anson Stoner.