The numbers didn't look too promising. Handyman Matters, a Lakewood, Colo.-based collection of more than 120 home-repair franchises, normally sells 90 to 95 percent of the 100 rooms per night reserved for its annual four-day franchisee meeting. But just a couple of weeks out from its meeting in Denver this past February, only 70 percent of the block had been booked.
HM president Andy Bell shuddered at the thought of paying attrition fees for rooms that would sit empty. So he and the rest of the HM team hatched a plan: They would ask the local branch of Volunteers of America to invite eight hard-working families or struggling single parents who could use a few days of relaxation to enjoy a complimentary stay at the hotel.
Bell negotiated with the 430-room Westin Tabor Center, Denver, to drop attrition fees if he could fill 32 additional room nights this way, for which Bell agreed to pay full price. The gesture ended up costing Bell more than the attrition fee would have, according to Nicole Harrington, an HM public relations representative who helped plan the meeting, "but we were definitely glad to help out the community," she says. Some of the local guests chose to sleep all day, while others spent long hours at the pool. Handyman even threw a birthday party for one of the kids.
Harrington says the families were overwhelmed by the group's kindness, and she hopes other companies will choose to do take advantage of unfilled room blocks in a similar manner. "We aren't the first or the last to do this," she says, hopefully.