Rebooking Events: Are You Covered Contractually?

As 2020 twists and turns through COVID-19, it is up to us as Event Professionals to be our client’s advocates in rebooking their events. With the ‘New Normal’ on the horizon, we need to be able to flexibly adapt to new trends and make sure we are contractually covered for what could happen in the future. To help us achieve successful events for Fall 2020 and beyond, there are a few things to take into consideration.

History and Projections

During rebooking within the same venue, or even a new venue, they always ask about the history of the group and what they will be expecting for the current event. This is challenging because most of us will not have accurate attendee numbers from 2020 and some companies will not have that information available for 2021. However, you can set the tone for the next event positively and offer hybrid events. When trying to decide what your predictions will be, it is best to err on the side of caution. Look at your event and if something should arise that may limit travel (nationally or internationally), state ordinances, etc., what would be the lowest onsite attendance to expect? Go from there and then find the maximum number spaces can hold, which will help you find the best location and be prepared for that range moving forward.

Venue Information to Request

When working with a hotel or venue, whether you have used them previously or not, it is important to create your company’s guidelines that you will present to each venue or vendor moving forward. Below is a quick list to consider when working with your event partners:

  • In addition to state taxes, service fees and gratuity, will the venue charge any fees to maintain the CDC’s recommended guidelines? For instance, spaces may now require a flat cleaning fee, or a sanitation fee moving forward to cover their costs.
  • Venues cleaning protocol. This could include how often the space is being cleaned; with quick turnarounds the time that is needed to transition rooms now while sanitizing, or simply how often the hotel guest rooms are being cleaned.
  • New guidelines for food and beverage. Most importantly, how many banquet staff will be assigned to the group vs attendee ratio. A few additional items to consider here would be how is the food being served, what protective gear will the staff be wearing, do the new procedures take up a larger footprint? Deep diving into these procedures will help you find a venue that not only fits your group, but also enables everyone to feel comfortable and safe.
  • How are room amenities being handled post COVID-19? It is common that event/company VIPs will receive room amenities, so how are these being handled in a safe way? Also, for basic room amenities, how has coronavirus effected coffee makers in rooms, mini fridges, etc.
  • With groups looking into rebooking and moving locations, hotels are at a high trying to place people into 2021 and 2022. Make sure you are aware of all current groups also booked within the hotel and their safety protocols. All the safety precautions at your event could be nulled if the group next to you is not practicing the same measures.

Contracting Items

In addition to your desired spaces, hotel room blocks and concessions, it is important to put addendums or clauses into new contracts to protect your group moving forward. A few items to consider are:

  • Should local laws, state laws or county guidelines prohibit your group from doing scheduled activities or the event as a whole, what does the cancellation, rebooking or credit back to the group look like?
  • If there is another crisis that restricts international travel, how does this impact your attrition. Look at specific clauses or sliding scales that can be added into contracts if your guests are unable to travel into the United States.
  • Travel restrictions that are not considered force majeure but are from a pandemic where guest’s companies or states restrict them from leaving their hometown.
  • Rebooking, (this has been so common and contains a lot of grey area), just because you cannot host the event in current times, does not mean you should pay full cancellation to rebook. Work with the venue or hotel on a Rebooking Clause that clearly outlines what costs will be out of pocket, just like a Cancellation Clause.

Stay in the Know with Best Practices

  • Keep on top of the CDC’s Sterilizing Guidelines, as they are consistently modifying
  • Distancing inside classrooms: when maxing out rooms, make sure to provide a safe distance between tables, seats, rows, etc., so attendees feel comfortable and not crammed
  • Transportation: frequently reference the CDC’s recommended travel guidelines, car services guidelines, TSA’s procedures, and airline announcements to make sure everything is “a go” for guests to arrive
  • Food and Beverage updates by venue and caterers

Use these tools to be prepared when booking events in the future and have confidence within this “New Normal”. New times mean new adventures, so join us as we all move forward together!