One of the greatest disasters a meeting or destination planner can experience is finding out, at short notice, that the chosen venue is no longer suitable. It’s not uncommon for venues, whether hotels or event centers, to perform renovations, maintenance, etc. They generally have some idea of when the renovations will begin, roughly how long it’ll take, etc., but these things are liable to change. Perhaps more than any other possible problem, unexpected venue renovations can utterly ruin your event. If you find out two weeks in advance that your venue can no longer host your group, that doesn’t leave you with much time to find a new venue, change flights, and make all the other necessary changes. Such a crisis can be avoided, however, with careful planning and a well-written contract.

Get to Know the Sales Manager

Meeting planners must be experts at networking, and, while each of a planner’s business relationships matter, relationships with venues’ sales managers are particularly important. These are the people that can make or break your efforts to succeed. In the event of a crisis, your venue’s sales manager is the person you’ll be working with. If you already have a relationship with that person, and the two of you are on good terms, they will be more likely to help you.

Require a Project Timeline

This simple requirement can save you from all sorts of trouble. Venues are usually able to provide a project timeline, which includes start and end dates for construction. While these dates may be tentative, and you probably won’t want to plan your event for the day after the construction plans to end. If the timeline says construction will be complete by September 1, but renovations are still under way in October, you’ll want to know about it, especially if you have plans in mid-October, for example.

Include an Escape Clause

In the event of your venue undergoing serious, unexpected changes—the kind that would hinder your ability to hold your event as planned—you’ll need an escape clause. If a change in your venue would keep your event from being successful, an escape clause would let you out of the contract without being liable for breach of contract. Your venue doesn’t want to lose business, of course, so you’ll need to negotiate the conditions for such an ‘escape.’ Some things to consider in an escape clause include: (a) what would require you to seek a new venue, (b) what would be possible alternatives in the event that the venue suddenly doesn’t work, (c) what financial concessions do you agree to such as a buy-out clause for you -or- an agreement to compensate you should a new venue result in increased costs.

Prevent Room Changes

Few things are as frustrating as finding that you lack the space needed to effectively hold your meeting. Some venue contracts may include a phrase saying that the meeting space is subject to change. Don’t let this slide! When writing up a contract, make sure there’s a clause that requires your venue to get your approval before changing your meeting space.

Include a Venue Cancellation Clause

If you find yourself facing an unavoidable crisis, you need to know that your venue won’t leave you hanging. Let’s say that two weeks before your event you find out your venue is unusable. Cancelling the event is the last thing you want to do, so you’ll need to make other arrangements. In this case, your venue should be responsible for relocation assistance. A cancellation clause in your contract will obligate your venue to help find an alternate, comparable location for you. Furthermore, a good cancellation clause will require the cancelling venue to pay the difference in cost, including any additional flight and transportation fees. One important consideration: will your clause state that cancellation fees are based on lost profit, or lost revenue?

Conclusion

Meeting planning is plenty stressful on its own, so you don’t need venue renovations to add to your frustrations. While you can’t always foresee venue issues, you can at least prepare yourself. A well-crafted contract, combined with careful planning, will protect you from the worst crises.

If you require assistance in your upcoming destination meeting plans, contact Gavel International.

Peter