As Packaging World went to press, a proposal that responds to meeting planners' concerns over hotel rates was "leaked" to the Chicago business media. The hoteliers' concessions would trim rates on rooms for winter meetings by 10% from last year's prices. Even more important, though, the hotels would commit a greater percentage of rooms that could be reserved at convention rates. The percentage would vary from 60% of rooms in smaller hotels to 90% at the largest hotels. "We have to show [winter trade shows] that we appreciate their business, and we have to do it now," Crain's Chicago Business quoted Christopher Mander of the Hotel InterContinental in Chicago. "You know that in mid-January, the only reason you're busy is because of [the housewares show]. But some hotels don't see it that way. They think they should feed off the rates when the demand is up." Chuck Yuska, president of the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI) was unimpressed, noting that the concessions were offset by a lengthening of the period of time between room guarantee and the show. A lot of room changes are made about a month before a show, he says. "They're willing to guarantee more rooms. But they want to lock in those rooms 45 days before the show. Right now, we work on a cut-off of about two to three weeks," he says. "Gaining access to additional rooms would be great, but not if we lose our flexibility to make changes for our attendees," Yuska says. Whether in hotel rooms or other costs, the "climate" has begun to change for trade shows in Chicago. And, says Yuska, the pluses of Chicago still outweigh the negatives.
Chicago stays in Pack Expo plans (sidebar)
Hotels show signs of winter rates
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