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'Keep travel policies tight' - FCm

Corporates should continue to review and tighten their travel policies despite signs that the economy is recovering, says FCm Travel Solutions.

The travel management company warned that the path to recovery would be "fragile" and said companies should aim to get lower air fares and hotel rates "for the forseeable future."

The agent said it was encouraging clients to book early for the best fares, take restricted fares where possible, use preferred suppliers and use premium economy instead of business class.

It said it was also working with clients to renegotiate hotel rates and to use consolidate its programmes with fewer properties.

Alex Cousins, FCm UK's director of account management, said that while there were indications of recovery, it was  "still very early days in terms of seeing any significant changes in how this affects corporate travel buyer behaviour".

She said mandatory policy was now a reality and clients were putting greater emphasis on booking 12 days ahead.

"Airlines continue to flood the market with cheap fares and we have noticed average ticket prices is coming down by up to seven per cent closer to departure compared to the same class of travel in 2008," Ms Cousins said.

In the hotel sector said London rates were holding up well.

But there were some properties which were refusing to cut rates and some companies were therefore moving to other hotels because of this.

Ms Cousins said: "Most hotels are willing to renegotiate corporate rates and discounts of eight to ten per cent year on year can be achieved relatively easy.

"Generally however, hotels are sensitive to maintaining and even increasing market share. We are receiving numerous enquiries from hotels asking to be accepted on programmes."

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