By: Lauren Millard
“Hi. We’ve accidentally double booked your meeting space”. As a meeting planner, that might be one of the worst phone calls you can get. As if planning a meeting wasn’t stressful enough (Don’t believe me? Read our previous post here!), now you’re workload has just been increased.
I just started planning meetings this year, and I was hit with this phone call. As someone who was still learning the ins and outs of meeting planning, this sent me into a panic. I learned a lot from the experience. Here are some quick tips if you’re ever in this situation.
- Figure out a back-up plan? When you find out the meeting space is double booked, and your meeting is the one that will need to relocate, you automatically start thinking of alternatives. If your vendor has not already provided one for you, make sure you do this first.
- Update the contract as needed. Since your meeting space is overbooked, your contract needs to be analyzed. Depending on the backup plan that has been created, the contract is either “null and void” as you take your business elsewhere, or there need to be amendments made. For more information on contracts, view the Accepted Practice Exchange (APEX) Contracts Accepted Practices from the Convention Industry Council here.For my meeting earlier this year, the hotel came to us with a solution right away. They presented an option to hold our meeting at a building across the street. We amended our contract for them to cover any additional fees above what we paid for our meeting the previous year. The new meeting space was more expensive, and we did not feel it was our responsibility to cover those extra expenses when the hotel was obviously at fault.
- What concessions can they offer? As your vendor, they made a huge mistake. Now you have to do extra work, make sure your attendees are aware of the changes to the meeting location and possibly schedule of events. This can be a significant inconvenience if your marketing materials have already been printed and mailed. Below are examples of concessions you can ask for to help alleviate some of the inconvenience faced by you, your Board and attendees:
- Can they upgrade all of the rooms?
- Can they provide free parking if they aren’t already?
- Can they do something extra for guests such as leave a bottle of wine in their rooms?
- If the hotel has a restaurant inside, can your guests be offered a discount?This may seem like you’re asking a lot, but in reality you have to be the one to report to your board and/or your members. They are going to want to know what the vendor is doing for you in return after their mistake. They want to know what is in it for them when their meeting got kicked off to the side. Why should the vendor keep their business?
- Inform attendees of any changes. Finally, after all the logistics are worked out, don’t forget to tell the attendees of any location changes. For board meetings this is a little easier than a large scale meeting. Use any and all mediums that may get the message to your attendees to keep them from showing up at the wrong place and getting upset!
These quick tips saved a client over $10,000 when our meeting space was double booked this year. As much of a challenge as it was, our board was very happy with how smoothly things went. We were able to turn that frustrating call into a positive experience!