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3 Offers to Take the Angst Out of Fall Meeting Bookings

Bye, bye sellers’ market—planners need hotel contracts that won’t keep them up at night.

Attendance numbers will be more of an unknown than ever as organizations get back to the business of meetings. A meeting’s history may not be the roadmap it once was, as potential attendees calculate the possible risks of group events with the benefits of face-to-face networking and learning. Fortunately, hotels are likely to be eager for business, putting organizers in a strong position to negotiate favorable attrition and cancellation clauses. In fact, some destinations, hotel companies, and individual properties are taking the next step, offering generous terms right off the bat.

• InterContinental Hotel Group recently introduced a “Book Now, Meet Later” program for small meetings of 10 to 50 people being held before December 31. Participating hotels will not charge cancellation or attrition fees and will give groups a five percent rebate on the master account. The booking must be made by August 31 to take advantage of the offer.

• Benchmark Resorts and Hotels new “Zero Risk Meeting Clause” says that no attrition or cancellation fees will apply until 60 days in advance of an event. This is for new meetings booked before the end of the year and happening by March 31, 2021. It applies to both contracted room and food and beverage revenue. The company is also incentivizing third parties by increasing commissions on room revenue from 10 percent to 12 percent through meetings booked through the end of next year.

• Major hotels in Indianapolis are offering zero attrition penalties for groups that don’t hit their numbers at meetings booked through the end of the year. The program, developed by Visit Indy, started with 13 downtown convention hotels, and has expanded to 22 properties throughout the city and at the airport.

Whether or not a meeting property has a specific offer around cancellation or attrition clauses, planners should negotiate thoughtfully to protect themselves. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need to protect your organization during this time of uncertainty. But remember, just because a venue offers zero attrition penalties or a generous cancellation clause doesn’t mean that you don’t need to put it in the contract or have it reviewed by your organization’s legal team. While the extraordinary circumstances of the 2020 pandemic create a perfect situation for planners and properties to work together to reduce risk, review this 2011 article by industry attorney Lisa Sommer Devlin on the dangers of no-attrition provisions.

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