Growing through the recession

Expert Opinion

The Executive Director of the UK-based Hotel Booking Agents Association, Peter Ducker, talks resilliance in tough economic times.

Perhaps surprisingly we have grown through the recession. I put this down to two key things: a need to belong to an organisation through which you can monitor industry trends to ensure that your business is tracking the norm for your sector, and an increased need to network and be part of the big picture.

We have suffered a few losses as companies have either gone to the wall or merged, but thankfully very few. Most businesses have ‘hunkered down’ and are managing their cash flow carefully.

Our revised code of conduct is a further evolution of a document that started life over 10 years ago, and is now in its fourth iteration. Each time it addresses issues that have either become relevant or increased in importance to venues or agents. Our most significant move in this area has been the launch of our international charter. This is designed to facilitate business between UK agents and overseas venues; reacting to client demand for the same level of comfort and protection in that arena as they now expect in the UK thanks to the HBAA Charter.

We have everyone from global brands to small independent venues in membership, and their needs are very different in some ways and surprisingly similar in others. The larger businesses look to us for thought leadership, interpretation of the impact of legislation on our sector (eg TOMS or the UK Bribery Act). Smaller businesses value our meetings and education highly. They all enjoy our networking.

I am old enough to remember a time when hoteliers regarded agents as the enemy, taking bread from the mouths of their children. I like to think that the HBAA has played its part in driving that change in opinion.

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