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Bookings by individual business and leisure travellers have been the major driving factor behind hotel growth this year so far, reported TravelClick this month. According to TravelClick's July 2013 survey, the 'transient' travellers segment, has outperformed the traditional group bookings segment, meaning that the latter has performed less well than was hoped for in 2013 so far.

2013 UNCERTAIN FOR GROUP BOOKINGS

"Group has been the big question mark of 2013", according to TravelClick's Tim Hart. But with over half the year behind us, it has become clear that 2013 will not be the year of big gains in the group booking segment. In fact, according to Mr Hart, the pace of group bookings has been lower than average for five out of the seven months of 2013 so far.

Not all is lost for hotels this year though, as their revenues have been maintained by the transient segment. Made up of individual business and leisure travellers, this segment has remained consistently strong and is predicted to be the key hotel growth driver throughout the remainder of this year.

But group bookings may yet make a resurgence. TravelClick's estimates for 2014, based on early advance booking trends at the major hotel chains, already suggest that the travel industry is likely to see a renewed energy in the group booking segment.

TRANSIENT SEGMENT DRIVING GROWTH THIS YEAR

When examining the 12 month outlook more closely (July 2013 - July 2014), we can see that overall committed occupancy has increased by 2.3% compared to the same time last year. Average daily rate (ADR) has gone up by 3.6% based on existing reservations. Bookings from the transient segment have increased by 4.9% year on year, with ADR up by 4.5%. Additionally, the transient leisure segment is showing occupancy and ADR increases of 4.5%, while the transient business segment is showing occupancy increase of 5% and ADR up 4.2%.

For comparison's sake, the group segment has shown an occupancy increase of 1.3% and increased ADR by 1.5% compared to the same time last year.

Clearly, although group bookings remain a strong driving force that will not go out of fashion in a hurry, the transient traveller segment is also vying for superiority. Hotel marketers would be wise to recognise the unique features of the transient segment and take steps to encourage them to book by tailoring certain marketing campaigns to their needs and preferences.

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