CLAUSE: No Room at the Inn

You have a contract with XYZ Hotel for rooms during your meeting. An attendee has a reservation made before the cutoff date and guaranteed for late arrival. The guest arrives, only to be told that while the hotel has his reservation, it does not have a room, and will be sending him to ABC Hotel for the night.

In an effort to maximize their revenues, hotels regularly sell more hotel rooms than they have for a given night. This concept of “yield management” is based on sound business principles.

Principled or not, this is no comfort to the meeting planner whose attendees are “walked” to another hotel, in spite of the group's contract for a certain number of rooms at the hotel.

EFFECT: No Clause, No Resource

If there is no clause addressing over-booking, the meeting planner should add one. One tactic is to specify that the hotel will pay a set amount per room for any group room that it walks. In this scenario, the hotel is likely to walk other guests before it walks your attendees.

An alternate plan is to add a clause that explains the reparations the hotel will offer if the hotel does walk a group guest. Such a clause should address the following:

Consulting with the group's on-site contact to prioritize which group attendees are walked (e.g., not VIPs).

Making sure the hotel maintains the name of any walked guest on a special list so that anyone who calls for the walked guest can be referred to the guest's new hotel.

Providing or reimbursing transportation for the attendee between the original hotel and the new hotel during the meeting dates.

Providing one or more long-distance telephone calls so attendees can inform their family and/or office of the change in hotels.

Perhaps most important, be sure that any walked rooms are credited to the group's pickup for purposes of calculating attrition damages.

Tyra W. Hilliard, CMP ( is a meeting industry lawyer and assistant professor of event and meeting management at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

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