The one-two punch of September 11 and the stagnant economy has slashed the number of hotel development and renovations projects scheduled for 2002. Marriott will open 125 properties this year versus 170 in 2001; Renaissance Hotels & Resorts will open only 10 hotels in the coming year; and Starwood Hotels has also reported a slowdown. Industrywide, according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 6 percent of hotel projects scheduled for completion in 2002 and 2003 have been canceled or deferred. With this in mind, Jonathon Howe, senior partner at Howe & Hutton Ltd., Chicago, has the following suggestions to verify that the hotel will be ready on time — and that if it isn't, the planner will not be left without a venue.

  • The contract should stipulate that if the hotel fails to open on the agreed-upon date, it will find you a comparable hotel in the area at its expense. Above and beyond that, planners should negotiate a fee to be paid if the hotel doesn't deliver.

  • Demand monthly reports on construction progress, and require the hotel to pay for a consultant to deliver monthly reports on his or her on-site inspections.

The same advice holds for renovation projects, with the added note to insist on a renovation-disclosure clause (including potential compensation) to cover promises that no renovations will be in progress at the time of a meeting.