Rocco Forte Hotels re-brands

Rocco Forte Hotels is to re-brand itself as The Rocco Forte Collection.
A spokesman for the company said the name change was to emphasise that the nine hotels in the group (which will expand to 14 shortly) are “individual in character and style but linked by the company’s brand values of elegant design and attentive personalized service.”
As part of the re-branding, Rocco Forte will launch a new company website including a section dedicated to the meetings sector and a new online resource for travel agents.

FCm moves into Dubai

Travel management company FCm Travel Solutions has moved into the Middle East state of Dubai.
Its new office in the state will be run through its parent company Flight Centre Limited and managed by Rahul Nath, whose role as general manager of FCm’s Indian business will be expanded to incorporate Dubai. 
Anthony Grigson, FCm’s global executive general manager, Dubai had a strategic market with significant potential.
He added: “This is a small and strategic investment that reflects our policy of extending the FCm Travel Solutions network to key international markets that are important to our local, regional and global clients.”

London hotels see steady growth in June

London hotels enjoyed steady growth in June, according to new figures from PKF Hotel Consultancies Services.
They reported occupancy was slightly up by 1.4% on figures for June 2006 from 86.7% to 87.9%, the average room rate up by 10.1% from £126.19 t in 2006 to £138.94 while revenue per available room (revPAR) rose by 11.6% from £109.434 to £122.15.
In UK regions, PKF said room yield saw a “solid” rise with Birmingham and Leeds leading the way with respective rises of 13.6% and 11.3%.
Robert Barnard, a partner at PKF, said: “It is heartening to see that the attempted terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow and the major flooding experienced in the UK at the end of June did not affect the month’s figures.
“However, I suspect the second spell of severe flooding the UK has recently experienced will take its toll on regional hotels when we see July’s figures.”

Concur to buy Gelco

Concur, which provides expense management services for corporate travel, is to buy up rival Gelco Information Services owner of Gelco Expense Management for $160m.
The prospective deal sees the US-based Concur take over a private company H-GB Holdings which owns the Gelco products.
Steve Singh, chairman and ceo of Concur, said: “This acquisition broadens our offerings in areas including electronic payment, auditing, and processing of expense reports.
“We expect to improve scale, expand our market reach, and to drive new value for all of our customers.”

SWISS earnings soar

SWISS reported a steep rise in net profits of CHF295m (€179m) for the first six months of 2007, compared to CHF76m (€46m) for 2006.
The carrier, now owned by and fully integrated with Lufthansa, said its pre-tax earnings for the six months rose to CHF285m (€173m) against CHF98m (€59m) in 2006.
Total income for the six months was CHF2,304m (€2,304m) compared to CHF1,976 (€1,198m) for the same period in 2006.
Christoph Franz, SWISS ceo, said: “SWISS continues to climb. Our encouraging first-half performance strengthens our faith in our current strategic thrust.
“These results have exceeded our expectations. Buoyed by strong demand, we further improved our performance in the second-quarter period on both the passenger and the cargo front.”

Harry Weeks goes purely business

Harry Weeks Travel the UK agency which launched successful online rail booking software for corporates, has decided to focus purely on business travel in the future.
The company, now owned by Capita Business Travel but still operating as Harry Weeks, said it would close it leisure section on August 31.
Grahame Weeks, ceo of Harry Weeks, said: “Business rail travel services is the key area of growth for our business.
“We will focus on enhancing the capabilities of our existing business rail booking tools Evolvi and Travelpackonline and exploring other innovative rail booking options for businesses.”

“Raw deal for companies who rely on GDSs”

Companies which use only the GDSs to book hotels get a “poor choice,” Trevor Elswood, commercial director of online hotel booking agency BSI.
He said they also paid more for the accommodation and had higher rates of non-compliance to company travel policy.
Mr Elswood said that the hotel databases of most travel management companies “represent a poor reflection of the hotel and accommodation properties actually available in Europe.”
He said GDS channels only covered 39.5% of hotels in France, 41% in the UK, 44% in Spain, 48.5% in Germany, and 52.2% in Belgium.
“This clear lack of choice has a significant negative impact on those corporates looking to consolidate their accommodation business through a single channel.
“Company ‘users’ – bookers and business travellers – lose confidence, which manifests as general apathy to corporate guidelines and higher rates of policy avoidance as they opt for the DIY approach and make bookings directly,” he said.

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