What Toland did: Toland searched, but could
not find another hotel with enough space to accommodate this group of more than 1,000 for the dates
she needed. Ingenuity solved the problem, as she re-configured the layout of the exhibit space and used
multiple areas. The main session was also spread out
across two rooms. To appease the sponsors, concessions were made, reducing the revenues and profits
of the conference.
Fortunately, in the contract she had written, she
had a number of clauses to protect the group, as
she specified that the meeting space is a material
part of the contract (go to successfulmeetings.com/
TolandContract to see the full details).
She worked closely with the hotel to restructure the
program and came up with a new exhibit and meeting space layout, additional A/V at a cost of $60,000.
Compromises were made to exhibitors, which cost
another $10,000. Labor costs were incurred in drafting a new floor plan, editing the website, and reaching out to exhibitors with new space assignments.
“We asked the hotel to refund us, and they refused. We decided to put it on the back burner, and
proceeded with the planning of the conference, as
we did not want to strain the relationship just prior
to the event,” says Toland. “Afterward, we had an
attorney contact them for reimbursement. They refused. Fortunately, although the event was in Texas,
the legal jurisdiction in the contract was listed as
Boston. In Massachusetts, since they willfully refused
to honor the contract, they could have been liable
for treble damages, including legal fees. They paid.”
It’s bad enough when one group is having its meeting canceled because of a missed construction
deadline. Try having it happen to three groups at
the same time. That’s what happened for the grand
opening of Austin, TX’s Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt.
The property is infused with rock ‘n’ roll features such as an art installation of vinyl birds
sculpted from LPs, and light fixtures made of
trombones and trumpets. Needless to say, there
was a great deal of excitement surrounding its
scheduled opening in September of 2015. Three
groups took advantage of pre-opening rates and
booked their meetings while the property was
still under construction. But as is often the case
with construction projects, the Hotel Van Zandt’s
opening was delayed by two months.
What the hotel did: “We want our customers
to come back to us over and over again,” explains
Chuck Moses, director of sales and marketing for
the hotel. “Before we called them about this situation, we reached out to neighboring properties, including the W, the Westin, and the Four Seasons.
We believe in approaching the client with a solution, not a problem.”
The Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort could have
upped its charges, since the meeting was only days away.
Instead, it matched everything from the original contract,
food and beverage minimums, comps, and room rates.