The surge in demand — coupled with higher costs and staffing shortages — is creating difficulties for travelers and providers (airlines, hotels, ground transportation companies, etc.). According to the Global Business Travel Association, prices for business air travel increased 48% in 2022. Another 8% rise is expected in 2023, which will take us above prepandemic levels. STR reports that the average U.S. hotel rate in spring 2022 was $146.61, the highest monthly average on record. In high-demand cities, like Miami, the average rate in April was $329.50, a 30% hike from April 2019.
The problems in the airline industry are even more dramatic. Higher costs, delays, schedule changes and overcrowded flights are causing global consternation. The United Kingdom saw 500 flight cancellations in one weekend in June 2022.
If you are on for booking travel, these three tips can make sure your out-of-town trial bookings go smoothly.
1. DIVE INTO THE DETAILS
Make sure you have all the information you need before you begin. Here are some questions to consider:
- What are the dates of check in and potential check out?
- What is the address of the courthouse, and how far away are the attorneys and staff willing to stay?
- How many sleeping rooms do they require, and will they need additional meeting or working space?
- Will they need AV equipment or special internet setups? Do they need any disability accommodations?
- Will they require 24-hour room service, the ability to bring in outside catering or laundry/dry cleaning options?
- Do they want guarantees that opposing counsel will not be in the same hotel?
Having a thorough understanding of the team’s needs and preferences is key to ensuring the trip is a success and allows you to discuss everything upfront with each hotel you vet to avoid misunderstandings.
2. START EARLY
Book hotels as soon as you have the trial dates. Hotel occupancy rates averaged 66% nationwide in 2018 and 2019. As a result of the pandemic, they tanked to 44% in 2020 and 58% in 2021. These days, they are back at 63% and expected to hit 65% for 2023, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association.
While this is good news for the hotel industry, staff shortages (2022 employment levels are down 16% from 2019) and higher room rates are leading to frustration for many guests. This makes it essential to book early and to prepare your attorneys and supporting staff for possible hiccups in service.
“The problems in the airline industry are even more dramatic. Higher costs, delays, schedule changes and overcrowded flights are causing global consternation.”
We always recommend sourcing at least five hotels to get a sense of the local rates and cancellation policies and to determine which ones will be able to best accommodate all the above needs.
If you need to book rental cars and/or drivers in the trial city, be prepared for higher costs and tighter supply there, too. Prices are expected to increase 4% in 2022, and an additional 3% in 2023, reaching levels above those seen prepandemic.