'Great Meeting' plan gets enhanced

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HAMILTON, Bermuda -- The Bermuda Department of Tourism is enhancing its Great Time for a Great Meeting group program, now in its third year.

A $50 credit per room, per night, applies to all new bookings for group stays through April 30 at four participating hotels. In previous years, the program was offered only through March 31.

Also new this year are guarantees of one complimentary room for every 25 booked and two free suite upgrades for each group. The program requires a minimum booking of 15 rooms for three nights at either the 239-room Elbow Beach Resort, the 410-room Fairmont Hamilton Princess, the 593-room Fairmont Southampton Princess or the 407-room Sonesta Beach Resort.

Credits can apply to all expenses incurred during the program on the group's master account or be posted to individual accounts. Groups can use the credits toward room rates, transportation, food and beverage, golf outings or other expenses.

Groups in the Great Time for a Great Meeting program can apply their credits toward golf outings. Arthur Lugo, group and incentive marketing manager with the Bermuda Department of Tourism, said the island's tourism was projected to drop off considerably -- from 20% to 30% -- during October.

While the Great Time for a Great Meeting campaign itself is obviously not a reaction to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., he said the program's new features might be considered a reaction.

"Traditionally, in the high season, the complimentary room ratio is one per 50," Lugo said. In the off-season, complimentary room ratios would normally vary at the discretion of individual hotels, he noted. "The difference this year is we've got everybody on board to agree to one per 25," Lugo said, adding that the type of suite upgrades "is based on what the properties have available at the time the contract is signed, not at the time of the group's arrival." In other words, suite upgrades are blocked once the booking is definite.

Asked if the program might be extended even further into the high season, Lugo said the approach will be to wait and see. "The end of April marks the beginning of our high season," Lugo said, "and demand is traditionally very high in May. If we need to look at a similar campaign for May we may, but at this point we're not looking beyond April 30."

The standard agency commission is 10%. For U.S. companies, meeting costs in Bermuda are fully tax-deductible, as if the event were held in the U.S.

For more information, contact the participating hotels or the Bermuda Department of Tourism's group and incentive sales department at (800) 223-6106, Ext. 213, or on the Web at www.bermudatourism.com.

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