JUN 2018

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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J U N E 2 0 1 8 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 9 June 1 marks the start of the 2018 hurricane season and licensed travel insurance agents at expect a 20 percent jump in call volume from travelers seeking insurance protection. The increase is expected because 2017's destructive hurricane season wreaked havoc on travel plans, leading to a record number of trip cancellation claims and travel insurance sales. Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, Maria and Nate also helped drive online searches for travel insur- ance to its highest level in five years, according to hurricane travel insurance expert Meghan Walch. According to InsureMyTrip, 75 percent of customers will choose a comprehensive travel insurance policy for summer travel. This policy provides a variety of benefits, including medical coverage, emergency travel services, baggage protection, trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage. Walch said that some plans enable travelers to cancel a trip when NOAA issues a hurricane warning but once a storm starts forming, it's considered a foreseeable event and insurance coverage will no longer be available to cover losses related to that storm. Below are some examples of how insurance may enable travelers to receive reimbursement of pre-paid, non-refundable trip costs if they must cancel a trip due to severe weather-related issues that are covered under the trip cancella- tion benefit: Cancel trip due to weather: when common carriers such as airlines and cruise lines cease service due to weather. Many plans require that the cessation of services be for a certain number of hours, usually 24 – 48. Cancel due to a hurricane warning: when a destination is under a NOAA-issued Hurricane warning. Cancel because of storm damage at destina- tion: when a hotel, resort or vacation rental is devastated and made uninhabitable by a storm. Cancel because home is destroyed by storm: when the home of a traveler sustains destruc- tive storm damage. Cancel trip for any reason: this is an optional time-sensitive benefit available on some plans that allows travelers to cancel a trip for any reason. Reimbursement is usually 50 – 75 percent of the pre-paid, non-refundable trip cost. This benefit includes specific eligibility requirements. "Travelers clearly have concerns about bad weather hampering their travel plans," said In- sureMyTrip CEO Jim Grace. "Choosing to buy insurance early – before a storm is named – is a smart way to protect their trip investment." For more information, visit www.insuremy- n Hotels Add Panic Button Systems Demand For Travel Insurance Increases As Summer Approaches A number of hotels, especially in larger cities, are adding panic button systems to help protect their staff and guests. Over the past five years, hotels in Washington, D.C., and Se- attle have fol- lowed New York's lead, outfitting specific staff with panic buttons. In Chicago, panic button systems are scheduled to be implemented in hotels by July 1. Union discussions are underway with casino hotels in Las Vegas. And groups in cities such as Miami Beach, Fla., and Long Beach, Calif., hope to get support for panic button ordinances this year. There are many varieties of panic buttons available, including one that allows security to listen in on a situation as soon as the button is pushed and, if appropriate, issue instructions or warnings over a speakerphone on the device. The MobileDefender Model S is a small device that fits in a pocket or can be worn on a lanyard. When the SOS button is pressed, the device sends a GPS location alert. It also has built-in fall detection so if an employee is tackled or falls, an SOS alert is immediately issued without the employee needing to press anything. For more information, visit n Westgate Resorts Announces Seasonal Commissions Increases Countering recent actions by several large hotel brands, Westgate Resorts has announced that not only will it defy the current industry trend of cutting third-party meeting planner commissions by maintaining its current rates but it will also give planners even more, with additional seasonal increases on commissions and incentives for 2018. The increase follows recent announcements by hotel companies cutting commissions for third-party meeting planners. Earlier this year, Marriott International announced it would lower commissions (from 10 percent to 7 per- cent) for rooms booked by third-party planners beginning March 31. Hilton Hotels subse- quently announced the same level of commis- sion cuts effective Oct. 1 and, most recently, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), which includes Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Indigo and Holiday Inn, announced it would also begin cutting commissions from 10 percent to 7 percent as of Jan. 1, 2019. Westgate Resorts, which operates 25 prop- erties nationwide, including several in top con- vention destinations Las Vegas and Orlando, will maintain its 10 percent commission for planners year-round; during specific time- frames, based on the location, it will increase commissions to 12 percent. "We value the service independent meeting planners provide and will continue to reward it accordingly," said Westgate Resorts Chief Business Officer Jared Saft. For more information, visit www.westgate n

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