Leisure trips in the final quarter of last year continued to outpace the same period in 2011, new data shows.

December closed 2012 on a positive note overall for both business and leisure travel, with future hotel stays suggesting additional growth potential for both sectors, according to Pegasus Solutions.

Leisure travel demand for hotels across the world remained strong despite temporary regional setbacks, according to the electronic hotels transactions processor.

Net bookings in the last three months of 2012 continued to grow by an average margin of 6% over 2011 as rates remained steady.

In North America, December bookings rose 6.3% over prior year as rates grew nearly 4%.

The positive leisure performance further highlights the need for hotels to cater to the leisure booker, according to Pegasus chief executive David Millili.

“Driving traffic to a hotel’s website is the best way to increase valuable direct bookings,” he said.

“Hotels can’t hope consumers will find them. Implementing an internet marketing strategy that encompasses the latest advances in keyword, phrase and content analysis, social media, and email campaigns will keep a hotel top of mind the next time a consumer is ready to book.”

December’s business travel bookings rose to match 2011’s “substantial volume”, a feat only achieved in three other months last year.

North America showed positive upswings for bookings, average daily rate and revenue as net reservations inched past the previous year by 0.2%. Global rates increased by +1.8% over 2011 as North America grew 2.2%, returning to the growth pace experienced in the summer.

The fourth quarter results and expected first quarter 2013 stays suggest a new year rife with opportunities for “attentive” hotels, Pegasus said.