The Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA) has confirmed its position in the industry after bringing together the UK’s top-level hospitality executives at its recent CEO Dinner.

This annual event is an opportunity for both booking agents and senior executives from chain & independent hotels and meeting & event venues to impartially discuss the state of the market, forecasts for the year ahead, CSR, trends and industry initiatives. It is also a key opportunity for agents, hoteliers and venues to develop their collaborative working practices.

Annual HBAA bookings represent a collective buying power of just over £ 900m (accommodation and conference). The CEO Dinner is, therefore, widely respected as a key opportunity to strengthen relationships with a revenue source that accounts for up to 50% of business for some hotels and venues.

CEOs at the 2008 event included Marriott UK ‘s Paul Malcolm, Tony Troy from Principal Hotels, Satinder Vohra from Sarova Hotels, Nigel Hollis of Wyboston Lakes and Charles Prew from Barcelo Hotels & Resorts.

The consensus of opinion was that the hospitality industry sector remains positive despite the economic slowdown. This is reiterated in the feedback that the first and second quarter of 2008 have seen higher accommodation levels than expected.

Tony Troy, CEO of Principal Hayley Group said, “The meeting was not only informative and worthwhile but was also progressive in its approach to exchanging best practices and openly debating key business issues – a refreshing change as such events can sometimes be overly guarded. As we all increasingly face a more challenging market, I would welcome the meeting to be held twice a year to candidly discuss issues affecting this key business sector.”

Nigel Hollis, managing director, Wyboston Lakes said, “It was extremely refreshing to see many of my peers from hotels, training centers and independent properties under one roof discussing the market trends and industry initiatives that we are all facing. While the talk was impartial, we all walked away from the event with a better understanding of the constraints and, of course, the opportunities that are out there.”

Sue Burgess, chairman of The HBAA, commented, “Once again the dinner was a great success and has further identified areas where both parties – agents and venues – can work closer together in partnership. With more and more corporate buyers outsourcing their venue finding and accommodation booking practices, the HBAA’s members are representing an increasingly integral source of business to the hotel and conference sector.”