As I roamed the annual meeting of the Professional Convention Management Association last month in Miami Beach, the "A" word just wouldn't go away - no not that A word! The other A word, the one that seemed to haunt a lot of other people at the meeting. Of course I am talking about attrition - isn't everybody? I mean people were bulging out of legal eagle John Foster's seminar "Attrition Clauses: What's Fair? What's Enforceable?" I thought he was giving out ice cream and cake or trips to Tahiti but all he had was a handout on attrition esoterica.

After the break, "Room Gap: Why Is My Room Block Falling" drew another blockbuster crowd. I decided to buy the audiotape since I could not get a seat. (I can't believe how my listening tastes have altered over the years. I mean "Dark Side of the Moon" used to be interesting.) I wandered into the Feng Shui seminar next door and learned that my personal color was purple and that probably I would have to relocate the front door of my house to avoid constant bad luck over the next seven years.

At the Loews reception later that night (talk about giveaways - a truckload of crab claws and vats of South Beach martinis), John Foster confessed that he was running out of things to say about attrition and ways to say it. People just can't get enough on the topic these days, and he was in a sweat about it. We brainstormed possible new editorial approaches on the subject. My favorite: he and rival Jonathan Howe mano a mano on attrition fine points. Ya gotta love it!

Next morning at the general session (dang those martinis), what did I hear but the A word for nearly thirty minutes straight in one of those planner/supplier "talk show" encounters. Starwood's Christie Hicks said she was sorry (sort of), but hotel owners were still putting the squeeze on management companies and that's why those nasty little attrition clauses wouldn't go away. Stan Butler of the Institute for Food Technologists joked that REVPAR should really stand for revenue per available person, not room, since hotels seemed to be after maximum potential revenue per guest when it comes to attrition damages.

People were revved up afterward. I heard a big crowd was expected at "Reinventing the Post-Con Report," where, apparently, there was still a lot more to say about attrition. It hit me then that I wasn't going to get to the beach after all, not at this meeting. Dang that A word.