Sherry Moore
Conference Planner, Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations, Lorton, Va.

I have been involved in meeting planning for 10 years and I have not had attrition for any of my events — until this year. The attendance for the meeting was lower than usual and I had many attendees cancel their hotel reservation the week prior to the conference. The hotel was also sold out before, during, and after my event. Therefore, my late registrants could not get a room.

To prevent this from happening at the annual conference this coming year, I have decreased the room block to what we actually picked up last year. I have added two new clauses to my contracts that state the following:

  1. If the hotel represents itself as sold out anytime during the program, there will be no attrition [penalties] for the group.

  2. The hotel will let group know when an attendee cancels his or her reservation so that group can fill that reservation from our waiting list.

These new clauses have been added along with my standard additions, which state:

  1. Room nights are cumulative, not on a per-night basis.

  2. Rates apply three days prior to the meeting and three days after event.

  3. Any rooms reserved after the cutoff date will be credited to the room block.

  4. Any rooms booked outside of the room block will be credited to the room block.

  5. Hotel will not offer rates on its Web site or elsewhere at a lower rate than the group rate.

Mozella L. Brown, CMP
Meeting Planner, A Woman of God Ministries, Dallas

I have been an independent meeting planner for about two years and so far have not had to deal with attrition penalties. When booking hotel rooms, we are conservative in our blocks, look for properties that will agree to no attrition penalties (courtesy room hold) or to a reasonable rate that the client is comfortable with, and aggressively manage the block that we do reserve even if there is no attrition penalty associated with it.

Mark Jevert
Vice President
Communications and Conferences, Youth for Christ/USA, Englewood, Colo.

We did experience an attrition penalty as the result of canceling our national staff conference in October 2008. We canceled about 115 days in advance of the event. With the help of our relationship with HelmsBriscoe, a much lower penalty was negotiated with the understanding that we as an organization were going to do everything we could to make the business whole to that particular property in the coming years.

We have since held two separate conferences at this fine hotel, and have a third scheduled a year from now. The trust and relationship we have built with the staff and management of the property has ensured a long-term relationship, and in my mind, that's always an important and desired goal in working with the hospitality industry.

The name of our ministry is Youth for Christ. When we conduct business in a manner that is less than excellent, it reflects poorly on all of us in the religious conference market.