According to new research, seven in ten European corporate travel buyers anticipate an increase in travel budgets this year, with 16 per cent expecting significant growth, but many said they face multiple challenges over the next 12 months.

The survey of 500 corporate travel decision makers by meetings, events and hospitality technology provider Cvent found German buyers are the most optimistic, predicting a significant increase in their budget for 2019. Only a quarter overall believe their allocation of company funds will remain the same.

Forty-four per cent of respondents manage spend of more than €1 million.

Nearly six in ten (57 per cent) of those surveyed said their hotel sourcing process occurs once a year, showing many buyers are still focused on the annual Request for Proposal (RFP). Meanwhile one in five undertake this task every two years and 16 per cent look for properties more than once a year.

Furthermore, buyers pointed to rising hotel costs and value for money (both 44.5 per cent) as the top challenges they face this year, with German decision makers especially worried about the latter (46.5 per cent).

Nearly six in ten UK respondents (59 per cent) said Brexit uncertainty was their main concern. The UK’s exit from the EU is also creating a challenge for buyers in Spain (31.7 per cent), Germany (30.7 per cent), Italy (30 per cent) and France (17.8 per cent).

Safety and security were regarded as less of an issue compared to costs (37.4 per cent overall).

Cvent says the research highlights clear opportunities for the corporate hospitality industry. When asked about their biggest challenges when negotiating with hotels, more than a quarter (26 per cent) cited rate increases that were above city or benchmark averages, followed by a lack of transparency (17.4 per cent) and bids that do not meet the requirements set out in the RFP (15.8 per cent).

A lack of transparency was the biggest issue for 24 per cent of UK decision makers.

Meanwhile, 13 per cent across Europe highlighted poor, slow, or incomplete responses from hotels and 11 per cent said chain account managers were not relaying their company information to specific hotels.

And when choosing which hotels to use in their programme, location tops the list, with 69 per cent of respondents prioritising this, followed by rates (59.7 per cent), amenities (53.6 per cent), star rating (30.8 per cent) and loyalty programmes (25.1 per cent). One per cent said they don’t prioritise any particular features, with the remaining 0.6 per cent citing other factors.

Karla Pearce, European marketing manager for Cvent Hospitality Cloud, commented: “This year offers a tremendous opportunity for hotels of all sizes to capture new business given the vast majority of European corporate travel decision makers are anticipating raising their budget and looking to book accommodation outside their region. In order to capitalise on these opportunities, hospitality professionals will need to address a number of key pain points that corporate travel managers face on a daily basis and look at how they can improve the sourcing and negotiating processes. Hoteliers who rise to the challenge, simplify and streamline tasks and address the perceived lack of transparency and value for money will be the ones that are able to attract and retain a larger share of the growing corporate travel opportunity.”

View The European Travel Manager in 2019 report here

Cvent will also be available to discuss the findings of the survey at this week’s Business Travel Show on stand B3400.

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