Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

One Valley Resort Shares Its Side Of The Meetings Controversy Issue

The Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North is synonymous with luxury, indulgence and the utmost in customer service. The property, nestled in the natural desert setting of the Pinnacle Peak foothills, boasts grand casitas, fine dining, breathtaking views of the city below and some of the finest meeting-and-function facilities available.

Just a year or two ago, one may not have said the words “Four Seasons” and “budget friendly” in the same sentence. But things are different today. The current economic climate has dictated changes in nearly every industry, but the meetings industry has been particularly hard hit by the public frenzy over the abuse — both real and perceived — of Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) funds. Companies receiving government bailouts were blasted by the public and the press for continuing to hold meetings and events, even when taxpayer money was not used to foot costs.

The Four Seasons has not been immune to the situation. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, according to the property’s director of marketing, Dave Akin.

“The crystal ball is still cloudy, but we would like to believe that the worst is over,” he says. “We are cautiously optimistic.”

Akin says that due to the TARP backlash, public scrutiny and the political climate, the Four Seasons saw quite a few cancellations and a dramatic decline in its booking pace starting in the fall of 2008 through the beginning of this year. But he adds that the situation has “stabilized a bit.”

For Akin, the bottom line is that “meetings matter” and they need to continue to take place for many important reasons.

“People need to get together to share ideas and for continued education,” he says.

Although the media spotlighted the amount of funds being spent on meetings, Akin says the public was not apprised of the trickle-down effect of those meetings dollars. A meeting can directly impact literally thousands of jobs.

“So many people are dependent on those dollars,” he says. “It is very important that people in and outside of our industry can put a face and a personality with the statistics they are hearing. We want to make sure people aren’t getting confused between luxury and waste.”

The Four Seasons is taking a very proactive approach in an effort to rekindle the meetings momentum, and in doing so is receiving support from the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International.

The resort’s partnership with MPI has resulted in some very successful endeavors. Akin says the membership database is a very useful tool for reaching out to individuals and sharing thoughts.

“MPI is very good to work with,” he adds.

The Four Seasons and MPI have co-hosted several events, including meeting planners’ World Educational Conference (WEC), where the property was given the opportunity to showcase itself.

“We are taking a collaborative approach to educate people and help them understand the purpose and benefits of meetings,” Akin says. “We need to clear up the misunderstandings so everyone will be better off in the long run.”

To this end, the Four Seasons has received advice from the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) on how to show potential clients and guests the true value, worth and return on investment of conferences. AZ Business Magazine cover October 2009Akin hopes these efforts will help shift the focus back to why meetings are so beneficial, as well as some of the important issues that MPI promotes, including green meetings and social awareness.

“We want to move those topics back to the forefront,” he says.

Meanwhile, Akin insists that while there are certainly specials and values for both business and pleasure travelers to take advantage of at the Four Seasons right now, one thing has not changed.

“We are a company that prides itself on our customer service,” he says. “We are not changing our standards or cutting corners during these challenging times. Our focus is always on taking care of our clients.”

www.fourseasons.com