EDMOND—With the 2018 Feast of Tabernacles in recent memory and planning already underway for 2019 and beyond, the Philadelphia Church of God festival department has been tabulating and evaluating facts and figures. In doing so, it has found that its efforts have saved Church members thousands of dollars in hotel fees.
Over the past two decades, more hotels have been charging for more amenities that traditionally have been free. To keep base nightly rates competitive, hotels have increased revenues by adding “resort fees” and other surcharges for parking, early check-in, luggage storage, bottled water, breakfast, receiving packages, printing, gym usage, housekeeping gratuity, late check-out or other services. These fees now range from $20-40 per room per night, averaging $300 per room for the entire Feast.
As an industry, hotels have increased their revenues from added fees for the past nine years, and are projected to take in almost $3 billion this year. However, since the festival department negotiates rates for PCG members as a group, it saved members $75,000 at the Feast this year, just in the resort fees that would have otherwise been charged at the California, Florida and Washington sites.
“The festival department works all year contacting potential sites, discussing needs, visiting potential properties to see where God is placing His name for the Feast of Tabernacles,” department head Andrew Locher said. “Department manager Jason Cocomise works hundreds of hours a year in negotiating contracts to save the Church money and to save the members money, for exactly this type of reason. Saving this much on just this one type of fee at just three North American sites is a good example of the work that he does for the department.”
To help manage increasing costs, Cocomise also attends seminars and participates in action groups that advocate with the hospitality industry on behalf of hosts of conferences. The department also works with local convention and visitor bureaus seeking incentives from host cities that are available to the Church ($53,000 for the Feast in 2019, for example). Those incentives are shared among the brethren through reduced fees for activities, hotel rooms and other auxiliary services.
“Calculating the number of $75,000 for 2018 was really interesting to see. And we will be saving $75,000 or more on resort fees for Feast 2019 as well,” Cocomise said. “Resorts provide great locations for many of our regional Feast sites, but resort fees can be exorbitant. As we move from one Feast site to another, we are able to build a sort of group resume, and in that we can say, ‘Our group does not pay resort fees.’ This underscores how important it is and how successful we can be when our members book the hotels in the Feast Planner. Thanks to all the members who make this possible, as it really helps every one of us.” The $75,000 in resort fees and the $53,000 in incentives mean that PCG members will save nearly $130,000 at Feast of Tabernacles 2019.
Mr. Locher said that Church members can assist the festival department, and help all the brethren, by praying for successful negotiations to save on ballroom rental, catering and resort fees.
“All of us enjoy the Feast of Tabernacles, as part of the fall holy day season,” Mr. Locher said. “Rest assured the festival department at headquarters and the regional offices work year-round to reduce costs and make the Feast as affordable as possible for all members worldwide.”