Benchmark, a hospitality company with boutique properties like the Landsdowne and Turtle Bay Resort in its portfolio, has joined other hotels and destinations cutting out attrition fees entirely as part of its “Zero Risk Meetings Clause” and Meetings Accelerator Initiative. “[It] has proven to be effective in both new business development and closing prospective groups,” said Hal Powell, regional vice president, sales and marketing at Benchmark Global Hospitality. “Our clients let us know early in the pandemic they need to manage risk in terms of cancellation and attrition … and this provision has helped them do that.” As of Sept. 2, Benchmark had 50 new bookings with the zero-risk clause incorporated into the agreement.
The fine print is as follows — for new meetings booked before the end of the year that take place prior to April 1, 2021, no attrition or cancellation fees (on contracted room and F&B revenue) will apply until 60 days in advance of arrival. And for new meetings booked for between April 1 and Dec. 31, 2021, a one-time re-booking credit is offered as long as notice of cancellation is given at least 90 days prior to arrival. The re-booked meeting must be of equal or greater contracted revenue and take place before the end of 2021.
Most destinations we contacted who are offering similar breaks on attrition said that they haven’t yet seen a boom in bookings, however they do believe it is helping keep interest high and anxiety low. Take, for example, San Francisco, where more than two dozen hotels have agreed to waive attrition fees on new self-contained bookings of 10 rooms or more.
“The reaction to this offer has been good in the sense that it has taken the some of the risk out of booking a meeting during such unusual times,” said Tom David, executive vice president and chief sales officer at San Francisco Travel. “While I can’t say that it is because of this offer, we continue to see a fair amount of inquiries for new self-contained business for hotels. We also believe that the offer may have helped keep some of the definite citywide groups on the books longer because they do not have to worry about their room pick-up resulting in penalty costs.”
The CVB in Arlington, Texas also believes it helps to keep confidence high — its zero-attrition offer includes several convention hotels. “We continue to see interest as a result of the campaign,” said Chad Enloe, vice president of sales at the Arlington CVB. “Our NO ATTRITION campaign was launched to motivate and reassure that when placing groups or meetings in Arlington, meeting planners can do so without barriers, and with assurances that the commitments can be made with flexible booking parameters once it is deemed the right time to do so.”
Below is a sampling of more destinations and companies offering zero-attrition deals on new group business:
Little Rock — Groups with up to 75 peak rooms who book new business prior to Oct. 1, 2020 and meet by Jan. 31, 2021 will not incur attrition or cancelation fees.
Arlington — Five participating hotel partners have eliminated attrition fees on new group bookings through varying dates on top of discounts and rebates.
Indianapolis — More than 20 area hotels in Indy are offering zero attrition to groups who contract and actualize their meeting or event in 2020.
Pittsburgh — For new and existing group business taking place in 2020, the city’s major convention hotels are waiving attrition fees and the David L. Lawrence Convention Center will waive food-and-beverage minimums as well as additional fees on any necessary increases of space due to social-distancing measures.
Hyatt — In addition to no attrition or cancellation fees on new meetings booked in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America between Feb. 17, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2020 and actualized by June 30, 2021, groups will receive 5-percent credit toward the master bill as well as free Wi-Fi.
IHG — The brand’s Meet with Confidence offer includes no cancellation or attrition fees on group bookings with 10 to 50 rooms on peak. Business must be booked by Dec. 31, 2020 and meet or stay by June 30, 2021.
Jennifer N. Dienst is Convene‘s managing editor.