IN THE AFTERMATH of 9/11, Toby Brenner, president and CEO of Par Avion Meetings and Conventions in Los Angeles, had a client cancel a series of conferences, which resulted in some seriousfee exposure for the client. Through some personal connections, eventually she was able to find a corporation that needed to book some space in the short term and take her client off the attrition hook.
Brenner saw an opportunity. As of early February, Par Avion, which specializes in housing, registration, and travel services for corporate and association clients, is partnering with Active International of Pearl River, N.Y., to launch a new Attrition Solutions program. Active describes itself as the world's largest corporate trading firm.
“Our function,” says Tim Robson, vice president of new business development for Active, “is helping out corporations that have what we call an under-performing asset or excess inventory. In this sense I consider [canceled rooms] an under-performing asset.”
As described, the service will work like this. Par Avion would be the first point of contact, approached by meeting planners in an attrition hole. Brenner would then present the situation to Active to see whether it could offer a solution.
How? According to Robson, Active might be able to use the space for one of its 600 corporate clients. Or it could get more creative. For example, Robson says that Brenner could come to Active with a company that has a $100,000 attrition hole it's trying to dig out of. “In talking to the company, we might establish it has a $500,000 advertising budget,” says Robson. “If they place it through Active (which also places media as part of its corporate mission) we could, in exchange, buy out their attrition and take the rooms [for Active's own use]. Everybody wins.”
Brenner and Robson don't see Attrition Solutions as a fit for every attrition problem. “The best scenario for Active and Par Avion is when a client and a hotel are completely stuck,” Robson says. “Where both parties cannot, or will not, go further, and end up in litigation, which no one really wants.”