Hong Kong–based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts (www.shangri-la.com) has just announced that in the event of war, meeting planners will not be charged cancellation or attrition fees for meetings booked at any of its 39 properties, all located in Asia.

"Our goal is to protect the great partnerships and long-term relationships we have with meeting planners " says Karen Gray, director of sales & marketing, North America, for the luxury hotel chain.

There are no time constraints on the new policy, and it is applies to any meetings that take place during a war period, regardless of when they were booked. Meeting planners can either get a full refund or reschedule at a later time. However, the offer goes into effect only if war is officially declared.

Shangri-La is the second hotel chain to come up with a "war insurance" policy for meeting planners, although its offer is quite different from the one made by Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts a few weeks ago, which voided all cancellation and attrition fees for meeting contracts signed in February, March, and April that will take place before the end of the year in its U.S. and Canadian properties.

At this point there have been no changes made in the Shangri-La contract to enforce the policy. "If a meeting planner wishes to propose formal language, we would be happy to review it, most likely at the property level," says Gray, who stresses that every salesperson in the company is aware of the policy, and that Shangri-La would do nothing to jeopardize its meeting planner relationships.

Currently, Shangri-La has some good U.S.–based bookings in place for 2003 and 2004, notes Gray, particularly in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, and Singapore. The majority of these are corporate meetings and incentives. Following the industry trend of short-term booking, "We’re often signing contracts less than a year out," she says. To date, no meetings have been canceled.