August 31, 2011
So what's one to do? If you had a conference planned there with the understanding of the management structure, it seems your group could simply cancel the meeting, right? Not necessarily. As in our posting last week No vacancy...due to earthquake, it raised the discussion of the importance of negotiating hotel contract language to protect against a natural disaster damaging a hotel. In the case of change in management, your group may not be able to automatically cancel or move your meeting due to being unsure of the new managers. And there might even be some who may not think it's all that important, but it is.
That's why this situation is another area for negotiated contract language for protection. This could be under a header of "Rights of Termination." It is entirely acceptable to include language that the meeting or event could be canceled if there's a change in management. For instance, if you planned a conference at the Ritz Carlton or another high end brand, you expect and anticipate a certain level of service, right? If overnight, another management company took over that was more along the lines of a "motel" brand, then you most likely will receive a different level of service. Therefore, you should be mindful of including language addressing management, ownership or brand affiliation into your agreements.
As it turns out, Marriott did end up winning back operation of the Waikiki Edition. Good for them. If you'd like more information about negotiating hotel agreements, feel free to contact us.
August 30, 2011
It's situations as such that make it critical to negotiate a hotel agreement that covers these and other occurrences. This event is by no means the hotel's fault. Therefore, this instance would be covered under the "Force Majeure" or another term might be "Impossibility" clause. This clause essentially states that one or both of the parties can terminate their performance of the contract (without liability) if that party's performance is made impossible due to events such as a "natural disaster." This particular clause is a popular one for debate in the meeting industry given its ultimate power of stopping something from occurring -- and preventing revenue from being generated.
Therefore, you'll see many variations of this type of clause, as well as terminology that makes it very specific as to what it will -- and will not -- cover. For instance, "natural disaster" was mentioned above; however, there are many who will provide more specific terms defining the obvious ones such as "earthquake" and "hurricane" so that it's clear a 'bad hair day' is not considered to be a reason for having to cancel a meeting. Hotels are a business and assume a certain level of risk in holding space aside for you, which is no longer available for other groups. That's what makes this particular clause one of the critical ones to be included in the hotel agreement.
You could also go one step further and state what will happen in the event that something does occur. For instance, you might include verbiage that the hotel will work to relocate the group to another property with comparable space and rates. This is what's happening to those group's scheduled for the Bethesda North Marriott.
This is just one aspect of the force majeure clause as it should cover other areas such as epidemics, strikes, terrorism etc. But essentially, good contract language should address the consequences of a potential catastrophe and its negative influence on event attendance. The key is to make sure that this clause is included in your agreement altogether. If you're interested in learning more about negotiating hotel agreements, feel free to contact us.
August 24, 2011
- When conducting site selection to host a meeting or event, discuss with your venue staff what their procedures are for emergencies. Often, they may not be able to discuss details with you for security reasons, but they can at least identify who is the point of contact and how attendees will be notified of any imminent threats. They should also note where attendees should go in case of a building evacuation (for example, across the street where you will do a head count, etc.).
- Always make note of the emergency exits/fire extinguishers and announce them to your attendees at the start of the meeting.
- During the registration process, ask attendees for an emergency contact in case they are not able to communicate for themselves.
- Learn about the types of emergencies in the area where your event is located. While earthquakes are not entirely common to the East Coast; they are standard for living out west. In those instances, consider including some literature with attendee information noting this aspect and what to do in case of an occurrence.
- Identify who's in charge. This goes back to discussions with your venue. Identify who will be the person alerting attendees to an emergency and how. For instance, is there a public announcement system, will the fire alarms go off, will there be a special channel on the walkie-talkies used by event staff to communicate? These type of procedures will be critical to lessening the confusion, concern, and in some instances, immediate chaos that often accompanies events as such.
August 17, 2011
The entire event space, from the main entrance, with marble stairs, to the stage, is lovely. The staff is attentive and responds quickly to your needs. For more information, please contact The National Guard Educational Foundation at 202-408-5887. If you’re interested in checking out the museum, hours are 10am – 4pm Monday through Friday.
August 8, 2011
How do you choose when and where to host an event? Most event planners are lucky if they have at least six months to plan an entire event; however, the ideal time frame for planning is six to 12 months. The first step is creating a timeline. As you chart your timeline, think about every detail; for example, it would be ideal to give yourself a full month to find and book a venue.
Next, think through your theme/purpose and decide the type of audience and number of guests you hope will attend. This will help you as you ask for quotes from various locations. In order to get a quote, you’ll need specifications regarding the type of facility and services needed. Some of these are specifications include types of seating. To view some seating examples, click here.
Use these seating examples to get a clearer picture of the type of meeting you want to host. Once you have a plan in place, start making calls to various venues.
Make sure that your event date is flexible in case there are other large events in the city around the same time. Also, take weather into consideration; if you chose a date in January, some attendees might get stuck at the airport due to inclement weather.
If a venue tells you that another event is ending half an hour before yours, look for another option. Never book your event right after another one because you’ll need plenty of time for the other event to end and for you to set up.
Some other questions you’ll want to ask:
- Is the facility easy to reach? Is it close to an airport or train station? Is there free parking for guests?
- What are the catering options? Is there an in house caterer? Are there vegan and vegetarian options?
- What is included in the total cost? How can we cut costs? Is Audio Visual (projector, etc) and/or wireless included?
- Are there any disruptions, such as construction, that might occur during the meeting?
By no means is this an exhaustive list. There will be plenty more questions that come up from these initial ones. Then schedule site visits and food tastings, if possible, before making your final decision. The site visit is the most critical activity given what is often positioned online or in brochures, may look very different in person. Remember to take lots of pictures and notes in the form of a SWOT analysis (i.e. strengths, weaknesses,opportunities and threats.) This will help put your program into perspective and identify whether the venue is really right for you.