Shifting travelers from upscale to midprice properties for cost-saving purposes is for travel managers a common strategy, albeit at times difficult to enforce, during difficult negotiating climates of high rate growth and limited room availability. Bjorn Hanson, head of the hospitality practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said a meeting planner facing rate increases of more than 20 percent, for example, might be looking at it in a city with lower-priced alternatives.

"There's lots of talk in the industry about trading down when prices increase," Hanson said. "It sounds good, but intuitively, it doesn't happen. If you look at the data, it's the first time in all the cycles that I've really seen that, but it's in these higher-demand cities we're talking about."

PwC's U.S. Lodging Industry Report and Forecast showed occupancy in midprice hotels increased at a much faster rate than at upscale hotels in 2006. Midprice with food and beverage was up 1.3 percent and midprice without food and beverage was up 1 percent, while upscale was up 0.6 percent and upper upscale only 0.2 percent. These numbers represent the broader travel picture, not just corporate travel.

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