InterContinental's UK arm boosted by business travel upturn

HOTEL operator InterContinental has seen an influx of business travellers make the UK its hottest market in Europe.

The group said a revamp of menus for conferences and better services such as wireless points for internet connections had drawn a positive response in the UK.

Revenues per available room were up 5.2 per cent during the first three months of the year at its Holiday Inn brand in the UK.

This contrasted with flat growth in revenues in continental Europe as many business people put off trips due to the sluggish economies.

InterContinental said its Holiday Inn brand in London had expanded at three times the rate of the local hotel market, with revenues per room up 9.2 per cent in the four months to April 30.

In the UK, the group manages 200 hotels under the Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Express by Holiday Inn and InterContinental brands.

Operating profits across the group increased to 65 million in the first quarter from 46m, even though the seasonally weak Easter period came earlier this year than in 2004.

The performance was achieved at a time when the firm made significant strides in its strategy of selling hotel assets to concentrate on management and franchises.