Get ready to factor in a new charge on guest folios at some resorts: the daily service fee. While it may sound like one more aspect of the seller's market squeeze, resort staffers say they instituted the fees to help, not hurt.
"We kept getting a lot of complaints," says Christopher Pipes, CHSP, at The Broadmoor, in Colorado Springs. "Clients felt like they were being nickeled and dimed every time they turned around. A charge to pick up the phone to make a local call, a charge to go to the fitness center." In response, The Broadmoor conducted a survey of 500 social and group guests, asking if they would prefer an all-inclusive daily fee on their folios. "Ninety-some-odd percent said, 'Go for it,'" reports Pipes. Instituted recently, the mandatory charge, $10 per day for single occupancy, $12.50 per day for double occupancy, includes housekeeping gratuities; incoming faxes, local calls and 800-number access fees; the fitness center, including aerobics classes; and in-room coffee, tea, cider, and cocoa. "Guests can come in their room and immediately enjoy a nice cup of coffee or spot of tea, without being charged $3," Pipes says. "It's a real win/win."
Other resorts are doing variations on a theme. The $5 per day charge recently instituted at the Walt Disney World Dolphin covers services similar to those at The Broadmoor, plus daily newspaper delivery, but the fee doesn't cover gratuities. The charge now appears in meeting.
"When planners sign, they are acknowledging the resort services fee," says Bob Nicoli, director of convention services. "It's not really such a bad thing," he adds, pointing out that the package is valued at $12.70 per day.
The Peaks at Telluride (CO) bills guests $15 daily to cover gratuities for all service staff, except food and beverage staff. Spa access is free, while guests pay on an item-by-item basis for other outlets such as handball courts--although planners can arrange for a daily package fee instead. The gratuities charge was instituted about two years ago, when the resort was bought by Carefree Resorts, because the policy was standard at other Carefree properties. "Guests had felt awkward," says Elaine De-mas, director of conference services. "They had to keep taking money out of their pockets every time someone did something for them. We wanted people, once they get here, to relax."
The Lansdowne Conference Resort in Leesburg, VA, just instituted a $3 per day charge that also covers gratuities. Amenities such as parking and health club, are free. For the past three years, Westin's resorts have charged a daily fee that includes services such as the health club and local calls, but gratuities are left to the guests' discretion.
Are the package fees a trend? Perhaps so. Properties such as the Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado and Nashville's Opryland Hotel Convention Center are currently reviewing the idea. Others are bucking the trend. The Ojai Valley Inn is building a spa, but "we aren't going to tack on a $5 admission," says Michael Ellingson, director of sales and marketing. "We didn't want to get into nickel-and-dime comments." Nor is the property going to institute a daily charge.
"We pride ourselves in not having any hidden service costs," asserts Alvin Bett-cher, director of sales and marketing, Crowne Plaza Resort Hilton Head Island (SC). Housekeeping, the health club, and parking are free, although guests pay for tennis and golf, as is standard. Gratuities are left up to the guest, and that's the way it's going to stay, says Bettcher.
As the 20th century comes to a close, the meeting industry--like other industries--is being affected by three major trends: globalization, automation, and consolidation. In opening the McGettigan Partners Exchange conference in Philadelphia last week, John Pino, president and CEO of the newly renamed McGettigan Partners (formerly McGettigan Corporate Planning Services), touched on those trends and promised two days of learning, networking, and "unlearning"--giving up ways of operating that might not work anymore.
The Exchange brought together more than 200 corporate meeting planners, suppliers, and McGettigan representatives at the Philadelphia Marriott.
Pino said business partners in the meeting industry are no longer operating under volume-driven price agreements. "Now we're operating under long-term relationships, and building trust, confidence, and dependence. The really big news is that companies are talking to each other. They're taking the long view while still performing hectically in the short term."
As for McGettigan, Pino said the firm "does have the ambition and the need to grow." The communication, motivation, and project management company expects its revenues to grow 25 to 30 percent this year and already has opened new sales offices in Chicago and San Francisco. In line with the consolidation trend, Pino said the company is investigating possible acquisitions "all the time."
Highlights of the two-day meeting included ain Philadelphia's stunningly refurbished Wannamaker Building; a fireworks display viewed from the steps of the Philadelphia Public Library; a musical lesson in teamwork given by Maestro Boris Brott, a symphony conductor; and several education sessions involving expert panelists.
One such session touched on the idea of the "intrinsic incentive," a way to tap into employees' internal motivation. McGettigan is seeing corporations offer selfdevelopment programs across departments, encouraging sustainable motivation even among employees who usually are not touched by the typical incentive program.
"It's time to look beyond travel rewards," said Lori Martin, vice president, business development for McGettigan Partners. "After 20 years of developing the ultimate in incentives, I hear [attendees] asking for something else."
That something else is what McGettigan is now offering as Personal Empowerment Programs. "This is not in place of incentive travel programs," Martin emphasized, "but companies are asking, 'When people leave the workplace unfulfilled day after day, what will make a difference in motivating them?'" The answer is a program that helps workers balance their life and work.
During the conference McGettigan Partners also offered a demo of CORE Discovery 5.0, the new release of the company's meeting management software. The new release will run on corporate local area networks (LANs), the Internet, and corporate intranets. In addition to helping corporations budget, plan, and negotiate meetings, and register, track, and report on meeting spending activity, the new release will include a passenger management system, providing meeting departments a seamless system for managing air and ground travel.