by by Hunter R. Slaton | June 01, 2009

2s CompanyBenchmark Hospitality International's annual survey of its 30 hotels, resorts and conference centers reported a surprising trend: increased requests for double-occupancy room blocks.

"Some corporate groups insist on double occupancy because it is part of their culture," notes Julie Berry, the director of sales and marketing for Benchmark's Eaglewood Resort & Spa in Itasca, Ill. "But on the association side, it's absolutely because of the economy."

Research released by Egencia, the business travel division of Expedia, supports this trend. Last November, 5 percent of corporate travel managers said they were asking employees to bunk together. By this April, that percentage had doubled.

The thought of a roommate is enough to make most business travelers blanch. For associates in close quarters, it's important to have preemptive communication about compatibility, schedules and habits, says Jacqueline Whitmore, a double-occupancy survivor and author of Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work.

One other issue to address is money, even if travelers are on expense accounts. Whitmore says, in her experience, hotels can print separate bills for roommates, who sign for incidental expenses under their own names. Planners should discuss billing issues in advance and be sure the property is prepared to split room charges accordingly.

Christina Beck, events manager for the San Francisco-based Social Venture Network, which hosts two annual conferences, adds that room sharing works best if attendees have the opportunity to select their own roommates.