C&I bookings for its UK hotels outside of London have fallen by 15-20% over the last 12 months, according to UK north area vice president Jean-Paul Nel.
He said: "We are not seeing green shoots in that area this year. But we are seeing a lot of short-term events, with last-minute confirmations."
Snow and volcanic ash
"We hoped to start with good growth for C&I business at the start of this year," Nel added. "But winter was particularly harsh – last year we saw heavy snow and the ash cloud and we don’t seem to be moving away from these challenges. However, I am very optimistic for the rest of 2011. We are now trending ahead of last year in terms of total hotel business."
The regional group, whose clients include RBS, will target UK C&I buyers with more promotional events this year, and focus on the banking and pharmaceutical markets, he added.
Meanwhile, the group’s London hotels have reported growth, with C&I bookings up 12-15% for 2011 compared to 2010.
The company said it is over a quarter of the way to achieving its plans to double its European portfolio from 40,000 to 80,000 rooms by 2015.
It has added 9,100 rooms across Spain, Portugal and Italy, with new Spanish additions including AC Santo Mauro in Madrid and AC Palacio de Santa Paula in Granada.