Wall Street firms' hotel spending jumps 31% this year vs. 2009

Luxury hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, and St. Regis are in high demand because of more travel, due to large amounts of deals.

Wall Street firms - major users of luxury hotels - spent a whopping 31% more on hotels in in the first quarter vs. a year ago, according to Ovation Travel, the Manhattan-based corporate travel firm that specializes in Wall Street travel, citing client data.

I spoke with Ovation's Michael Steiner recently while researching a USA TODAY print story about how luxury hotels such as Ritz-Carltons, Four Seasons and St. Regis hotels are seeing an uptick in demand, and he cited the 31% uptick among Ovation's clients.

What accounted for the major, year-0ver-year uptick? More deals - and more travel

"No question about it. Deals are up, more travel is being done," Steiner told me.

There's also some evidence that clients are starting to pick nicer hotels. Clients last quarter paid an average of $280 per night, roughly the same as a year ago, but Steiner is seeing signs that the figure may change.

"We are also finding that our clients' travel policies are starting to loosen up a bit and they're starting to inch up in terms of types of hotels they book," Steiner told me.

Wall Street firms tend to pay among the highest rates when it comes to business travel, so it's among the most profitable for hotels.

Travel by Wall Street deal makers and bankers can be viewed as a leading indicator for the rest of the country. Why? As soon as they engineer billion-dollar deals, the lawyers, consultants and others need to follow to finish the job, generating more business - and more travel.


Story originally published in http://www.usatoday.com/ by Barbara De Lollis