Window on Europe
Occupancy levels and room rates at London hotels plunged in September according to performance figures released by PKF's hotel consultancy services.Occupancy levels were down 17.2 per cent on 2000 and room rates were down by 6.6 per cent, the consultancy reported. Although room occupancy levels in London have been falling since the beginning of 2001 as a result of the downturn in the US economy, the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US led to a sharp decline in occupancy due to a fall in the number of US visitors to the UK. The number of hotel rooms occupied by American visitors during the month dropped by 45.5 per cent, said PKF. The Churchill Inter-Continental London has just completed the refurbishment of its conference and banqueting suites. The Chartwell Suite, the largest of its suites, can accommodate up to 300 guests for meetings and weddings. At the Cabinet Suite, the three medium-sized interconnecting rooms provide a flexible environment for both business and social events within different yet complementary and self-contained areas. The Library is ideal for social gatherings or small board meetings while the Marlborough and Blenheim suites, with its Internet access points, can be used as a meeting/lunch venue. The Randolph and Spencer suites are best suited to meeting and private dinners on a more intimate scale. An innovative new air cleaner claims to improve hotel room environments for guests and staff. Airtable, in the form of a table, removes 90 per cent of tobacco smoke and particles from the room through a built-in filter, its maker claims. "Rooms become more attractive when the guests know that they are equipped with efficient air cleaning," said Jan Hemberg, designer and chairman of Airtable AB. "We calculate that an increase in occupancy rate of about two per cent would be enough to pay for the cost of the air cleaner. On average, that means seven more nights in a year." The table, available in a number of different designs and colours, has been installed in several Scandic and Radisson SAS hotels throughout Sweden. Newly independent luxury hotel group, Le Meridien, has contracted to use Sabre's suite of travel marketing products, Sabre PromoSpots and Sabre Marketing Messages, to send information about promotional offers, rates and product information directly to travel agents' computer screens. Le Meridien's new GDS code -MD- will be used for bookings on Sabre and other global distribution systems. "Smart, targeted electronic marketing is an effective way for us to communicate brand information and raise product awareness," said Le Meridien's GDS development manager Paul Adams. "The information is designed to help agents provide a better service to their clients by giving them specific, up-to-the-minute details about any of our 127 hotels worldwide." Under the terms of the deal, Le Meridien will make available through Sabre all the rates that it offers through other GDS and distribution channels.