Total worldwide hotel bookings through global distribution system channels in January jumped 7.9 percent year over year before leveling off and remaining essentially flat in February and March, resulting in overall first-quarter growth of 2.4 percent, according to Pegasus Solutions. The average rates on those bookings maintained the modest growth rate that began in December, which followed six consecutive months of lower average rates, finishing the quarter up 1.7 percent. "Slower business travel in the latter portion of 2012 is giving way to more decisive corporate travel spending in 2013," Pegasus wrote in its most recent update. "Slow but consistent rate growth reflects companies' increased willingness to raise their travel spend." The company cited an "overall ease of economic and political uncertainty" and resurgent international travel fueled in part by "more industrial production and retail sales in China." Pegasus added that a longer average length of stay for hotel bookings—up 0.5 percent globally year over year in March to 2.15 nights—is "also a reflection of more international travel." At the same time, the average booking lead time also increased in March by 0.5 percent, to 19.19 days. That, according to Pegasus, "points to more group travel, driven by corporations capitalizing on international opportunities through meeting and conference attendance." Specifically in North America, hotel booking volume in GDS channels "spiked" in January, dipped "slightly" in February (versus February 2012, which included 29 days) and rose by 0.6 percent in March, according to Pegasus data. Average rates in the region maintained a marginal growth trend. Outside of North America, first-quarter results "reflect bumpy but improving overall business trends," Pegasus reported. Looking ahead, the company wrote that "global GDS forward-looking data points to solid business travel ahead, with revenue being driven by growth in rates and longer stays. Booking volumes may rise compared to prior year in April, but will remain within range of prior year in general. Rates will continue to deliver modest but more consistent growth for arrivals through July." Get the full story at Pegasus (PDF 1.9 MB)