Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Airfares, hotel rates on way up

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Manitoba business travellers will have to shell out a little more for Canadian business trips next year, Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) says.

In its 2014 travel price forecast, the international travel company predicts air fares, hotel rates and car-rental rates will all be going up.

"But the good news for travellers leaving Winnipeg and travelling in Canada is that we're not expecting any big changes in prices," Joel Wartgow, senior director for the Americas of CWT Solutions Group, the consulting arm of CWT.

For example, air fares out of Winnipeg are expected to climb by no more than 1.2 per cent, he said, and in some cases there may be no change.

Hotel rates in Canada are expected to rise by an average of 2.5 per cent, Wartgow added, and car-rental rates by an average of 0.9 per cent.

He said only moderate increases are expected because the Canadian economy is only expected to grow at a modest pace. And that will tamper demand for plane tickets, hotel rooms and rental cars.

Wartgow said there will be some exceptions. For example, hotel rates in Calgary, where the economy is booming, are expected to rise by between 3.9 per cent and seven per cent because of strong demand. And that gives hotel operators the confidence to impose higher increases.

Room rates in other some other major business destinations where economic growth is muted are expected to climb at a slower pace. Toronto, for example, is expected to see an increase of between 0.5 per cent and 2.8 per cent. Vancouver is likely looking at a rate hike of less than one per cent, and CWT is forecasting an increase of 0.5 per cent to 2.7 per cent for Winnipeg.

"So it's kind of a similar story to what's happening with air fares," Wartgow said. "We do not anticipate any significant or dramatic increases in hotel-room rates."

He said if car-rental rates do rise next year, it will be the first increase in several years for most North American car rental companies.

He said the CWT predicted rates would drop by three per cent this year in Canada, "and that's what we've seen year to date."

He said a hyper-competitive environment has caused rental agencies to cut their rates in the last few years to either maintain or gain market share. But they're not prepared to go any lower, he added.

Some are boosting them a bit to regain ground that was lost in the last few years.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 31, 2013 B7

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