Delegates lash out at hotel charges

One of the stand-out seminars at this year’s C&IT Corporate Forum, held at the Marriott St Pierre Hotel & Country Club, Chepstow, saw a robust debate on buyer-supplier relationships, as client-side event planners listed a host of recent disagreements with top name hotels. In a session chaired by Hotel Booking Agents Association executive director Peter Ducker, entitled ‘Getting the most from your venue’, corporates hit back at failings in basic standards at some properties. The two main themes of the complaints were a lack of back-up plans for failing facilities and post-event billing issues. “I used a hotel recently for a meeting for 250 delegates and none of the toilets would flush,” said National Policing Improvement Agency events manager Liza Bonthuys. “My team were put in a position where they had to go out and buy air fresheners, and yet the hotel is still demanding its £10,000.” Elsewhere Tube Lines events manager Helen O’Reilly quoted one landmark property that attempted to bill her for twice the agreed amount after an event: “We were asked to pay an extra £40,000 with little explanation as to why,” she said. “We obviously questioned it, and it has taken three months, but that figure was finally reduced to £1,600.” For his part, Ducker recommended robust briefing pre-event: “Planning is mission critical,” he said. “Quantify exactly what you want from each property ahead of your events and hold briefings every morning during the event. If there are problems, meet them head on.”

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