Hotels reluctant to cut rates for RNC

November 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Accomodations, News

Tampa hoteliers are pushing back as organizers of the August 2012 Republican National Convention continue efforts to renege on their year-old contracts, the St. Petersburg Times and Tampa Bay Business Journal tell us. The largest hotel in the county, for one, isn’t budging.

Earlier this week, the St. Pete Times broke the story about how RNC organizers want to lower convention-week room rates and hike commissions that hoteliers pay the RNC for the business even though officials inked a contract a year ago.

Initially, it wasn’t clear if everyone would try to make nice, since the Republican National Convention’s an important event and a public dispute might sully someone’s image. But the hotels came out swinging on Thursday – one day before the RNC organizers wanted the new rate deals finalized. According to the paper, Hillsborough County Hotel and Motel Association Executive Director Bob Morrison told hotel managers they need not budge on the previously agreed-upon rates. He says the rates were fair and, in some cases, 60% below what the hotels could have charged. “Our position is we will comply with the terms of the contract,” Mary Scott, general manager of the 717-room Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina – the county’s largest hotel – tells the paper in its latest story this morning. Scott’s not the only general manager irked by the situation, the Tampa Bay Business Journal reports today. “I can’t imagine anyone who is on board with this,” Joe Ruiz, general manager of the Crowne Plaza Hotel Tampa Westshore, tells the Business Journal. “I called some of my colleagues, and they are outraged.” The agreement signed last year let the RNC lock in about 15,000 rooms at 95 hotels, the Business Journal says. RNC spokesman James Davis says the problem is that rates were based on the hotels’ February rates, or peak season rates. The convention is scheduled for August, typically a quiet month for hotels.

The rule book, however, appears to favor the hotels. The St. Pete Times says: “The convention bidding rules allow hotels to charge as much as their highest rate for the month that falls 18 months before the convention