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Bob, I appreciate your desire to make our meetings maximally productive. I too have such a desire. However, you are incorrect in the assumption that we can cancel this meeting without penalty under our standard terms. Our standard cancellation clause does indeed allow us to cancel a meeting more than 90-days in advance of the meeting dates without penalty with only ONE exception, which is that we are not allowed to cancel for the purpose of holding the same meeting at another property or location. If we were to do that, as you propose, they could literally “Sock it to us” on cancellation penalties to the major distress of the 802 treasury. The hotel industry has already experienced this serious problem at the hands of several other groups, and so, in exchange for the acceptance of our extremely liberal cancellation policy, they add in the exclusion to protect themselves against just what you are proposing. If we were talking about canceling the Nov 2003 plenary entirely, we would be fully covered, but we can’t just say, “Sorry but we’ve decided to go somewhere else.” without major repercussions. It’s the ONE thing that you can’t do without destroying our good reputation and landing us on the industry black-list for “Risky Business” which means maximal penalty clauses and pre-pay for everything. So we have to be willing to do our very best to make it work for us. That’s what we are doing now. If we do wind up with an insurmountable obstacle that makes our meeting really unworkable, then we can negotiate for relief since we would all suffer in that case, and we could mutually find an alternative, but it would cost us because the relief property would have to rebate a substantial amount to the HR-ABQ to help offset their losses and that would be padded into the rate. As we get closer to the 4-mo out windows we become more likely to find a property with enough space for us that is so desperate to fill that large a hole that they will make some major concessions to get us in there. But as long as we have viable options for making the HR-ABQ meeting successful the option for such a negotiation will not be available to us.
Right now everything in town (including the convention center) is wide open to us (and very anxious to make a deal), so I think we have a good shot to make this work. If that picture changes substantially, then we can attempt a switch to Plan “B,” and go from there. As long as Plan “A” is workable, that’s the way we need to go. I know it sounds pretty iffy, but unfortunately that’s the nature of the beast. The hallmark of good meeting planning is being able to make the best of an otherwise bad situation, and then being smart enough not to repeat your mistakes. We aim to please …. J
I think your argument is still loaded with assumptions. I believe only the Hyatt room block is reserved now. Why do you assume we can block all the rooms in all the mentioned hotels. Adding total nearby hotel rooms and claiming this is the same as a 805 room block is flat out deceptive. I also believe we have not yet contracted with the Convention Center for rooms. (Do we even know what the costs for additional meeting space will be?). If only contract we have is with the Hyatt Albuquerque, and if it has our standard terms, it can be cancelled without financial penalty. (Yes I recognize such a cancellation would produce some ill will with Hyatt.)
I have personal reasons why I wouldn't mind a trip to Albuquerque, but I try to be objective for all attendees. I do care about people that have to travel from outside the southwest, I do care about forcing most of our attendees to lodge out of the meeting hotel, etc. On balance, I'm forced to conclude that holding the November meeting as planned years ago is a bad idea.
You claim we can make this work if we all stick together -- "work" has a broad range of interpretation. My primary concern isn't making a preselected site work, it is in making the meeting maximally productive. I think we could have a much better meeting if we all work together to change the venue, before you start signing all the additional required contracts to make this site work.
Geoff, I realize that you and Howard are not keen on the idea of another Albuquerque meeting, but it was voted in by the SEC, we do have a signed contract for the meeting, and there are more than adequate facilities available to us. I should like to point out that you completely missed the Doubletree Albuquerque, which is a highly rated 3-star hotel that is also adjacent to the Albuquerque convention center (so a block and half from the Hyatt) and has 295 guestrooms. The La Posada is a 4-star rated property with 115 rooms that is also within two blocks of the Hyatt, so that’s (395+295+115=805) already more than our normal room block of 800 rooms within a two block span. There’s at least another 326 3&2-star rooms that are less than a mile from the Hyatt, and a whole bunch more if you’re willing to go up to 2 miles.
I’ve been assured that the washing machine has been completely replaced by a modern noiseless unit in a more remote area where it is completely inaudible from the meeting spaces. There are at least 5 more good restaurants in the downtown area than the last time we were there, and I’ve been told the night-life is much better (which may not mean much when compared with other locations). Where it’s not my favorite location either, it is a reasonably good value in these tough economic times, and I’m sure some of our folks will appreciate that.
I’ve been told the airport is better now, but I’m afraid America West is still struggling so folks might want to stick with the other major carriers (Delta, United, American, Northwest, Southwest, and Alaska).
I don’t know if this helps at all, but I would appreciate it if you and Howard would make an effort not to douse this fire with gasoline by spreading misleading/alarming rumors to the folks at large. We can make this one work if we all stick together, and yes, I’ll even agree not to suggest it again until we’re less than 350 attendees again, OK.
La Posada de Albuquerque (only 1/4 mile away!)
125 2nd Street NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
At A Glance Cost: Expensive
The city's most historic hotel, was built in 1939 by New Mexico native Conrad Hilton (who honeymooned here with bride Zsa Zsa Gabor). Today, it stands as one of the finest hotels in the Southwest. All 114 guest rooms and suites feature Spanish tile, hand-carved furnishings, and all the amenities you would expect in a luxury hotel. Four meeting rooms with large windows and antique carved woodwork are equipped with state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment and furnishings...easily customized for any function. The lobby bar, with its hand-painted murals, hand-crafted beams and balconies, has long been one of the city's most popular meeting spots. Conrad's Downtown is renowned for its award-winning cuisine. La Posada is located 1 block from the convention center, and just minutes from Old Town Plaza, museums and historic sites. Get lost in history...find yourself at La Posada de Albuquerque.
Roger, If you got that impression it was
erroneous. We have the Albuquerque Convention Center right next to the
Hyatt and they have plenty of meeting space for us. People keep whining
about Albuquerque, not because it is not good meeting spaces and a low-cast
bargain as well, but because they think Albuquerque is a rather uninteresting
venue in which to hold a meeting. Some folks would disagree with that,
but I suspect that after this trip we will not choose Albuquerque again because
the whiners are louder. :-)