Marriott’s top 100 corporate clients "on average say they are going to be traveling more next year," Marriott vice chairman William Shaw said yesterday during an investor conference call. That little light is at the end of a long tunnel which includes a 19 percent year-over-year decline in group bookings thus far in the fourth quarter of 2009, and 12 percent lower group business booked for the following year than Marriott was showing this time last year.
Speaking at an FBR Capital Markets conference, Shaw addressed several trends including relative the strength of leisure travel. "Leisure travel was much stronger in the third quarter, but again at a much slower rate," said Shaw. "Our RevPar came in at 300 basis points better because leisure travel was stronger and it continues in the fourth quarter as you look at the numbers leisure travel will continue strong."
In the corporate market, he said, "There is a lot more business in what we call the funnel, so a lot more people are talking about having a meeting because they haven’t had one for 12 to 18 months. A lot more companies are saying they are going to relax their standards next year and companies that were negotiating corporate rates are saying that they are going to be traveling more next year."
Shaw expects occupancy to begin its climb in 2010, but increases in rate typically follow six months after consecutive occupancy increases, he explained.