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a blog by Chris Barrow

Short term pain, long term gain - how a hotel group teaches us all a lesson (as seen on TV)

Probably the last time I’ll mention my cycling accident (probably) but we did have to cancel 6 regional workshops during my hospitalisation and convalescence.

It was interesting to hear the feedback from those 6 conference/hotel facilities when we told them what had happened:

  • Full fee no refund (admittedly in line with contract);

  • Cancellation fee in line with contract;

  • No fee provided you keep using us next year.

How do you think the 6 locations measured up to those options?


  • 1 location - full fee no refund - result - we pay them and decide to move elsewhere for the next 8 workshops in 2023/24;

  • 4 locations - Cancellation fee in line with contract - fair enough;

  • 1 location - No fee provided you keep using us next year - result - friends for life and a mention here.

If you are looking for a first-class conference venue in Belfast, consider The Grand Central Hotel, who have been nothing but helpful at every stage of our relationship with them, not just in this “emergency” situation, but from start to finish every time we have delivered workshops, ordered meals and booked accommodation.

The Grand Central accepted their short term pain and has gained a raving fan (who just happens to be quite well connected).

Intriguingly, the hotel is part of the Hastings Group, who are currently the subject of a BBC 1 TV series “The Hotel People”.

The group lost £16 million in the pandemic, post-Covid and the documentary follows their recovery plan in 2021 - I watched the first episode last night - so many metaphors and examples for us all in dentistry.

Sometimes I can understand why it is important to implement cancellation or FTA charges in any business, to deter the “messers” - but listening first is very important because there may just be a lifetime customer who has a genuine reason.

There is also a p.s. to this story.

Whilst I was away on vacation last week, my business manager Phillippa Goodwin, went back to the “full fee - no refund” people and negotiated with them to move to “no fee - use us next year”.

An example of first class initiative from Phillippa as well as some flexibility from them.

But she did have to ask - The Grand Central offered first - how much better was that?

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