Inside Move: Room to quibble

Hilton hits NATPE for booking shortfalls

You’d think NATPE organizers had cleaned out every minibar in sight, , given the recent run of charges leveled at them by hotel operators.

First, New Orleans hoteliers threatened a lawsuit last December over the possibility the confab would pull out of that city in 2003. Now the Las Vegas Hilton, site of this year’s meet, has hit the trade body with a $10,000 suit.

The hotel is suing NATPE (papers were filed March 1) for more than $10,000, claiming the org failed to pay for all the 2,400 rooms it reserved. (But then, 40% fewer people showed up in January than in the previous year.)

Spokesmen for the Hilton and NATPE weren’t commenting last week, but some near the situation insist NATPE execs informed the Hilton well in advance that it wouldn’t need all those rooms due to post-Sept. 11 effects and a slump in the economy exacerbating an anticipated drop in attendance.

As for New Orleans, the org was mulling a move of its 2003 convention out of New Orleans, to cut construction costs. But reps for New Orleans-area hotels, upset at the thought of losing business, warned of legal action. And NATPE decided to stay put.

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