PCMA’s Catalyst community offers members a platform to ask each other questions, share ideas, or, as the website says, “communicate and collaborate.” Here’s a sampling from a recent Catalyst discussion.
Contracts for Fall Events
“I’m working on contingency plans for my client, whose annual meeting is in October in Philadelphia,” Eleanor Nelson, meetings director for Oasis, LLC, wrote on the PCMA Catalyst forum. “It seems certain now that hotel contracts that were negotiated pre-COVID-19 will no longer work. Best-case scenario, hotels will reopen with a lot of extra capacity and room rates will fall below negotiated group rates. We are projecting a much lower live attendance rate even if the virus is gone by October. Both of these will likely translate to attrition penalties. Has anyone attempted to renegotiate their hotel contract for a fall conference yet? What response did you get?”
We just reached out to our scheduled hotel for a mid-October conference to see what our options might be. They said it was too early to consider the force majeure. I stated all the considerations — attendees [who] do not want to travel (might still be restricted in their community), their business’s loss of annual income and can’t afford to send anyone, [attendees might not want to] be in a ballroom [and share] meals with hundreds of people, as to a projected drop in attendance, etc., but they were not willing to consider it this far out — the hotel is closed until May.
Some other options discussed and under consideration:
- The option of moving our conference to the next open year, 2022, if they would let us out now.
- If they could sell part or all of our block to another party or just let us out.
- From reading [blogs], there are groups canceling their May, June, and July meetings and looking for fall dates to reschedule, which would take the pressure off us.
- [The hotel] works with us in reducing our room block by at least 50 percent and still hold the conference.
- There is always the chance this might still be going on and [the hotel] would have to cancel us.
We are well past any reasonable cancellation penalty and might consider just going on with the conference and pay the attrition if it comes to that and have it out with the insurance company and hotel later on.
We are not the only ones who are going to be in this situation if all this clears up by the first of July, and hotels start opening up again. The big question is will anyone want to be out and about in the fall?
These are unusual times and will take unusual considerations for quite a while. I am sure we will remember the hotels who worked with us or not for a long time to come.
— Grant Sheehan, CEO, National Council of Firefighter Credit Unions Inc. (NCOFCU)
PCMA has created a COVID-19 resources page to help event professionals find reliable information about the pandemic and to share events industry-related resources to ensure they are prepared now and in the future.