April 01, 2003
Meetings & Conventions: Newsline newsline.gif (8042 bytes)   ONE BRAND’S MOVE TO LIFT PENALTIES ATTRACTS IMITATORS AND CRITICS

Hotels Waive Fees As War Becomes Reality

Jeff Senior
Jeff Senior The onset of the war in Iraq has prompted at least one U.S.-based hotel company to follow InterContinental Hotels & Resorts in waiving the financial risks to planners for events booked for 2003.

On March 20, soon after U.S. and allied forces began to invade Iraq, Carlson Hotels Worldwide suspended cancellation fees for meetings taking place through May 1, provided the business is rebooked to take place by Dec. 31, 2003. The policy applies to all of the Minneapolis-based chain’s brands (except for Regent International properties) in North and South America, India, Asia and the Pacific.

Carlson’s move followed the early-February announcement by Atlanta-based InterContinental that for meetings booked between Feb. 1 and April 30 and held during 2003 at any of its U.S. or Canadian properties, cancellation and attrition penalties will not apply.

Jeff Senior, InterContinental’s brand vice president for the Americas, told M&C: “We stand by our promise regarding the elimination of these fees. What you see is what you get.”

Just one month into the new policy, said Senior, the strategy had proved successful. “We have booked 16,000 room nights and confirmed 170 meetings,” he noted.

Soon after InterContinental’s policy change went into effect, Camino Real Hotels and Resorts of Mexico City announced it too would eliminate cancellation and attrition fines for any meetings taking place at its properties during calendar year 2003.

In late March, other chains were reviewing the issue.

“Our goal is to take each situation, one at a time, and rebook canceled business,” said Mike Beardsley, senior vice president of field sales, United States and Canada, for Washington, D.C.-based Marriott International. “We have a responsibility to our owners to be profitable.”

At White Plains, N.Y.-based Starwood Hotels & Resorts, “We feel it would be very dangerous to do this,” said David Scypinski, senior vice president of industry relations. “Any business on the books that the customer knows carries no cancellation or attrition penalty is basically tentative business. There is nothing you can do if the customer walks away a week out.”

Scypinski called the move a “a knee-jerk reaction to an economic issue. We think it’s desperation.” For its part, Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels and Resorts reports no plans to mimic InterContinental.

Attorneys who specialize in hotel law are considering the impact of waived fees on existing contracts, according to Scypinski. There are questions as to whether those contracts would become invalid if other meetings were allowed to cancel without penalty, he said.


What Association Executives Earn The gender gap in earnings grows in relation to size of organization, according to a 2001 compensation survey. Male CEOs Female CEOs Trade association $136,775 $92,125 Individual membership association $139,241 $85,204 Total staff size: 2 or fewer $75,000 $60,000 3 to 5 $95,640 $77,000 6 to 10 $116,550 $108,000 11 to 20 $138,200 $126,000 21 to 50 $201,923 $159,280 51 to 100 $237,900 $145,518 More than 100 $287,600 $249,233 Total annual budget: $300,000 or less $67,600 $54,789 $300,001 to $500,000 $75,600 $68,579 $500,001 to $750,000 $90,000 $72,800 $750,001 to $1 million $102,000 $87,525 $1,000,001 to $2.5 million $118,800 $112,425 $2,500,001 to $5 million $170,000 $137,100 $5,000,001 to $10 million $227,750 $160,585 $10,000,001 to $15 million $225,994 $171,750 More than $15 million $285,000 $256,269 Source: American Society of Association Executives

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