Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Guerrilla Training Schedule: A Two Point Landing

After many trials and tribulations, the 2008 training schedule has now stabilized at our new location: Larkspur Landing in Pleasanton, which is only about a mile away from the previous hotel location. The stumbling block for us was not room rates but outrageous contract penalty clauses for class cancellations. Apparently, hotel franchises, which are going to hurt this year in the already obvious economic downturn (I don't care what you call it), have suddenly decided they are no longer in the service/hospitality industry but the gold mining business.

Some hotels, including our old Crowne Plaza (now under new management), wanted us to tell them 90 days in advance if we had to cancel a class because we didn't meet the attendance threshold to run it. Otherwise, we would have to compensate the hotel by some ridiculous pro-rated amount. BTW, 90 days is a fiscal quarter and I only hold classes once per quarter. That translates to me finishing one class and predicting whether or not we would meet threshold for the next class even though it would still be 3 months away. You and I both know the IT industry doesn't work like that anymore. Even you (as a prospective attendee) don't always know that far in advance whether or not you will be allowed to enroll and travel. In other words, not only is 90 days notice not workable, 30 days notice already stopped working at the old Crowne Plaza after the tech bubble burst so, we threw it away. Add to that the giant sucking sound created by corporations outsourcing and re-outsourcing IT jobs like there's no tomorrow and you can't even be sure you'll have a job next quarter.

On the other hand, without any such penalty clauses in our contracts, I never canceled a Guerrilla class in 7 years of doing business with the old Crowne Plaza. Why would I tolerate 90 day penalty clauses now? Try explaining that logic to the bean counters whose only job is to look after the revenue stream of remote investors who are completely detached from the mechanics of the hotel business. That's broken, people! So, thank God for sales managers like Anna Maria Carter, at the Larkspur Landing, who has been in the business a long time and really understands how it works. She has been extremely responsive and adaptable to our needs and we really look forward to holding our 2008 classes at the Larkspur.

The double irony is that the new management at our old hotel (Crowne Plaza) forced me to walk away by trying on reinstate penalties that had been elided by the old management years ago, thereby sending me over to Anna Maria (now at the Larkspur) who was the person at the old Crowne hotel that signed me up to do our new classes in 2001. I'm pretty sure therefore that we've landed on both feet.

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