The Woodlands (Houston), Texas — Benchmark launched a strategic recovery initiative to support meeting planners and partners while forging new solutions for the industry’s future in a post-COVID-19 world. In effect through March 2021, the plan mitigates the risk and uncertainty of committing to new meetings and events through flexible short-term bookings, relaxed attrition and cancellation fees, and 100 percent credit given on re-bookings. In addition, meeting spaces at Benchmark properties will be restructured, focusing on long-term safety to align with conscious distancing and optimizing healthy hygiene practices. To support independent planners, Benchmark will increase commissions on new business from 10 percent to 12 percent, with 7 percent distributed immediately upon booking.
“The COVID-19 crisis has devastated the meetings industry and taken a severe toll on our confidence as well as commerce,” said Eric Gavin, Benchmark chief sales officer. “At Benchmark, we are aggressively addressing both the monetary concerns and the need to reassure our partners that it is safe and prudent to return to the conference room. We have built this program to demonstrate our commitment to and support of these relationships as we work to meet the challenges of operating in a vastly changed environment.”
Benchmark’s Meeting Accelerator Program encompasses the following elements, which the company sees as essential to the industry’s support and recovery:
Zero Risk Clause
Zero attrition or cancellation fees will apply to contracted room and food and beverage revenue on new meetings scheduled through March 31, 2021, until 60 days in advance of arrival.
A full, one-time rebooking credit will be extended to new meetings scheduled April 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021, with a minimum cancellation notice requirement of 90 days in advance of arrival. Re-booked groups must be of equal or greater contracted revenue and be held by December 31, 2021.
Transforming Meeting Environments
From safe distancing to elevated hygiene procedures and safety protocols, Benchmark’s new and enhanced elements for meetings and events include:
- Environment: Safe social distance spacing, sanitizer stations, increased air purification and aromatherapies, and staggered breaks coordinating event entry and exit timing.
- Food and Beverage Program: Sustainable, nutritious, and enhanced food safety culinary practices, complemented by local sourcing and cooperative partnerships, and skilled culinarians and mixologists.
- Breaks: Staggered refreshment breaks with mindful programming—from guided breathing exercises and yoga, to brain teasers and flash mob dances to stimulate energy and engagement.
- Teambuilding: Unique physical, social, and creative experiences to enrich individual and collective minds, bodies, and souls, delivered in a safe and secure environment.
Benchmark collaborated with its strategic partners and meeting and event planners in the development of the Meeting Accelerator initiative, including: Associated Luxury Hotels International, Teneo Hospitality Group, HelmsBriscoe, Conference Direct, Hospitality Performance Network, Experient, and Maritz.
The program is subject to availability at each hotel’s discretion.