Major Chains Don't Match InterCon
No major U.S. hotel chain has matched the late January move of InterContinental Hotels & Resorts to waive all cancellation fees on meetings to be held in 2003 and booked before April 30 (Meetings Today, Feb. 10).
InterContinental parent Six Continents has not expanded the move to its other brands, including Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, though InterCon has added South American properties to the program, which already applied to hotels and resorts based in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. However, several sources said some chains are waiting to take action on their cancellation and attrition policies until military action takes place in Iraq. Meanwhile, a handful of smaller, international chains have modified their cancellation policies. London-based Thistle Hotels suspended all cancellation fees at its 56 properties "for the time being," for international, inbound meetings "provided that the group or event organizer can provide documentary evidence that the group did not travel as planned." Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, which manages 39 Asian properties, "will not impose a cancellation charge on any of its clients that may need to cancel bookings as a result of military action in the Middle East." Mexico City-based Camino Real Hotels and Resorts waived cancellation fees for all meetings booked before April 30 and held before Dec. 15. "The fragile situation in the travel industry with the threat of war looming in the Middle East pushed us to adopt this novel measure," said Eduardo Ymay, vice president of sales and marketing of Camino Real, which operates 15 properties throughout Mexico.SITE Cancels June Conference
The Society of Incentive & Travel Executives last month announced it has canceled its University 2003 educational conference, which was scheduled to be held June 10 to 13 in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Association officials said the SITE board of directors chose to channel its resources into the association's annual international conference, held this year in December in Iceland, and the development of a series of new educational seminars. "SITE University had served our members, sponsors and the incentive travel industry well for many years," said president William Vastine, "but all of these parties, SITE included, have outgrown the value proposition SITE University offered. We are channeling our resources into areas that will derive a greater return on investment for everyone that comes into contact with a SITE program."SeeUthere Debuts Airfare Analyzer
Santa Clara, Calif.-based online meetings management firm SeeUthere Technologies last month introduced a new tool that allows meeting buyers to estimate group air costs for a given event. The Air Cost Estimator offers highest, lowest and average fare estimates—including those based on negotiated fares and zone fares—when information about the number of attendees and their departure points are entered. The tool, SeeUthere officials said, can import and reference any fare database chosen by its users.Passkey Names Avery VP Of Biz Development
Quincy, Mass.-based group housing management technology firm Passkey earlier this month named Chris Avery its vice president of business development, charged with securing business from hotels, management companies, meeting planners and convention and visitors bureaus. Avery most recently served as a director of regional sales for Passkey partner Newmarket International, a hotel and group yield management tech provider. The position is new to Passkey, officials said, and Avery does not directly replace another executive.New Dallas CVB Chair Seeks CEO
The Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau last month named J. Peter Kline, former president of Bristol Hotels & Resorts, its new chairman, taking the first step in restoring its top leadership after several resignations. Under fire after local media reports questioned the propriety of some bureau expenses and possible conflicts of interest, former chairman Chris Luna and CEO David Whitney in January resigned on successive days. Kline likely will form a search committee to find Whitney's replacement.~Chris Davis