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Corporate hotel rates – those that businesses pay for rooms -- have been rising around the globe, especially in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and North America, as an increasing amount of executive travellers get on the road to ply their wares, meet clients and do business face-to-face.

An August report by the Hogg Robinson Group, a corporate travel company, shows that in 50 of the world’s most expensive cities,  23 saw an increase in average room rate, with Mexico City (up 20%), San Francisco (up 11%) and Dubai (up 10%) topping the chart.  

This is echoed by June data from Pegasus Solutions, a company that processes hotel transactions, showing that room rates for the corporate market worldwide -- rose 3% compared to June 2011, , while North American hotels doubled that performance with 6% growth.     

Unfortunately, this rise in price comes at a time when business travel costs are still being scrutinised following years of global economic difficulty. Yet road warriors are finding ways to curb expenses.       

Many companies are forgoing luxury hotel stays in favour of integrating budget-level hotels or apartment stays into their travel policies. Companies are also often asking or searching for free amenities like wireless Internet and breakfast in order to optimise their budgets.

Planning business trips as early as possible is also increasingly important; and when you book your flight, book your hotel. “Advance purchase rates can offer discounts of up to 30% on hotel stays,” explained Paulo Salvador, head of marketing for Worldhotels, a global independent hotel group.

The location of a hotel is also important to consider. If it is too far away from the city centre, travellers will incur extra transport costs when getting to meetings. But there are also often better discounts if hotels are farther out of town. Finding a happy medium with convenient access to fast and easy public transport can be a money saver.

Join a hotel loyalty scheme; some help businesses save on travel costs by negotiating better rates. Hotel groups also reward members with benefits such as free Internet access and reduced parking fees, as well as discounts on food and beverage.

The timing of a business trip can be crucial. During conference season and other events that fill out hotels, prices can escalate. Holding meetings on or around weekends means that hotel meeting space can be less expensive, as can rooms at hotels that cater mainly to business travellers. “Tuesday and Wednesday are always peak nights, where availability is constrained. Why not fly in Sunday and get your meetings done on Monday? It can save you money on the room rates,” said Chris Day, the business development manager at Mantra Hotels in Perth, Australia. “[Or] stay longer and travel less. Discounts are also offered to longer stay bookings.”    

Consider using a travel agent or a travel management company. It is still the case that they can get access to more rooms, more rates, and more availability than if you do it yourself. They also have more bargaining power with hotels since they book more often than individual business travellers, and they often trawl faster and more efficiently for the best deals.    

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