Christina DeenyThere is a hotel association for just about every sector of the market. But what is a hotel association and why should travel agents use them? Christina Deeny, Leading Hotels of the World regional director for the UK, Ireland and South Africa, explains.

How do they work?
A hotel association involves the coming together of independent hotels for marketing purposes. Our members receive anything up to 40% of their business through us. In return, they pay a marketing fee and a fee per booking.

Why should a travel agent use a hotel association?
The agent knows a Leading property is guaranteed to be high quality. Hotels are rigorously checked against 1,500 criteria and are monitored to ensure standards don’t slip.

Our hotels pay agents commission of 8% to 10% and we chase them for payments on the agents’ behalf. Travel agents are our most important revenue base – 80% of business in the London office comes through the global distribution systems.

What else do you offer the trade?
We insist on rate parity across the group, so guests won’t find cheaper rates online than those offered through a GDS. We have a team of six sales staff, four of whom are continually out meeting agents, telling them about the hotels, sharing data and working on ways to improve sales. We also run fam trips for agents who support us.

What are the benefits to hotels?
Our brand helps properties stand out from the competition.

We have 25 sales offices worldwide and members can call them at any time for marketing advice. We also train hotels in marketing and management and help them develop their business.

A lot of our business is corporate and we negotiate with travel managers to create portfolios of hotels at which they can obtain special rates. We have a big GDS presence, a website and call centre.

Hotels can join our stands at major trade fairs or showcase themselves to agents at special events. The next one is in London on March 21. The stands are set up for the hotels – all they have to do is turn up.