NAILBA Perspectives Winter 2020 | Page 42


Hosting a meeting

Checklist of responsibilities and liabilities

The list of challenges are daunting , but in-person meetings will be back with predictions of Q4 2021 and Q1 2022 breaking hotel occupancy records .
Michelle DeClerck , Certified Meeting Planner ( CMP ), founded Conference Event Management in 2003 to serve the financial industry after working for insurance companies . Michelle has won numerous professional accolades , including Enterprising Women Award , and Top 20 Change Maker in the Event Industry .
In-person meetings provide great networking and business opportunities . Unfortunately , we are now plagued with contingency planning and event cancellations due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 .
Pre-pandemic days of planning events have been replaced with helping clients get out of hotel contracts and plan future events based on country and state COVID-19 ( C-19 ) reports . Concerns for future events along with business and personal travel is real . There is no clear answer for when we can safely hold meetings , nor any certainty of a hotel surviving , or even if there will be enough staff to meet attendees ’ expectations .
My role has evolved into an expert “ event canceller ,” helping clients make good decisions for future events . Here are my recommendations and points to consider for your future events : Rebook 2020 events into Spring 2021 . Between now and then there needs to be a careful balance between contractual event obligations and the low confidence level for attending group events . Cancellation deadlines need to be closely monitored to minimize financial obligations . Despite pressure mounting to bring people back together , we in the event industry are continuing to cancel meetings from Q1 and even Q2 2021 , while closely watching Q3 / Q4 2021 , as well as 2022 . With fewer hotels in business , social distancing space requirements , and all meetings over an 18-month period being compressed into only four to five months of 2021 , the rates are expected to be higher and space to be at a premium . With this being predicted to continue through 2023 , now is actually the time to determine where to hold future events for at least the next two years . Review and revise any current contracts that may have become outdated given new legal protection language now inserted into hotel contracts . In the planning process , make sure the hotel satisfies your contract under the new cleanliness , sanitation and social distancing mandated guidelines ( state , county , city , hotel ). Revisit room sets and request new diagrams for all function spaces and insist the hotel identifies how they intend to redesign your seating and attendee flow to determine if your group still fits , or needs to secure alternative space . Other changes to be aware of include lack of valet , bellman and turn down service , new touchless hotel check-in , elimination of goodie bags , reduction in vehicle and meeting room capacities , and elimination of buffet-style serving . With legal advisors , determine what role your organization and the hotel will play in temperature checks and safety-related procedures as they relate to financial responsibility and the ethical handling of communication among attendees and staff .
The list of challenges are daunting , but in-person meetings will be back with predictions of Q4 2021 and Q1 2022 breaking hotel occupancy records . By carefully integrating regulatory guidelines in your RFP submissions , and embracing new policies and procedures , industry annual meetings and incentive trips will be healthy and strong .
42 Perspectives Spring 2019