by Michael J. Shapiro | February 16, 2018

With Marriott International's recent decision to slash group-intermediary commission rates still riling much of the third-party community, other hotel companies and properties continue to try to turn the move into a competitive advantage. Marriott announced three weeks ago that as of March 31 of this year, the hospitality giant would begin paying third parties 7 percent commission instead of the industry-standard 10 percent for group business booked at hotels in the U.S. and Canada.

Fifty-five percent of the 441 respondents to a new M&C survey about commissions said they are aware of hotel chains or individual properties that have increased their commissions following the announcement. Sixty-five percent of the 272 independent planners among those respondents are aware of competing hotels offering higher commission rates.
More than 90 respondents mentioned the Preferred Hotels & Resorts "We Appreciate You" promotion, which offers intermediaries an 11 percent commission for a limited time. According to a Preferred Hotels spokesperson, the company already has received 22 leads based on that promotion, although no contracts have yet been signed as a result.
Last week, Denihan Hospitality, which owns and operates boutique hotels in select U.S. markets, launched its "We Love Our Third-Party Planners" program, which ups commission to 11 percent. Among Denihan's portfolio are The Benjamin; The Surrey and the Affinia Hotel Collection in New York; and The James Hotels in New York, Chicago and, as of 2020, Washington, D.C. 

"We recognize and appreciate the important role group intermediaries play in attracting business and group bookings to our hotels," said Vera Manoukian, president and COO at Denihan. "As a privately owned company, we share much in common with many of our intermediaries, including dedicated attention and more personalized offerings to our respective end users. These critical business partners recognize the highly differentiated experiences that our brands have to offer their clientele. We are glad to support them as they adjust to the recent pressures impacting their businesses."

A number of individual properties have launched promotions as well, vying for the attention of independent and third-party planners. Florida's South Seas Island Resort, for instance, announced the "Lucky 13" promotion, for which it will pay 13 percent commissions for business booked before April 30, 2018, for events held by Dec. 31, 2020. Naples Grande Resort, also in Florida, has promised a 13 percent commission as well. 
As of this week, the Royalton Riviera Cancún is offering 15 percent commission for all group business. (Note that Marriott's commission reduction applies only to hotels in the U.S. and Canada.)
Survey respondents also pointed to the Eden Roc and Nobu promotions in Miami Beach, as well as in Nobu Los Cabos in Mexico, and claimed to have been offered higher rates at some Thompson Hotels properties. Spokespeople from both Omni and Wyndham have told M&C they are committed to maintaining the current 10 percent commission rate at this time.

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