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| Written by Denise Farrell

Navigating Risk for Upcoming Face-to-Face Meetings

Your executives, attendees, health and safety experts, and team members have all determined it is feasible to host an upcoming face-to-face event. You are ready to engage with your clients, members, and teams, but does your venue and contract support your re-imagined physical distanced meeting?  Perhaps there is a fully executed hotel contract for 2020 and you want to make the program work. It is imperative to take some time to think through some important topics to help you align to your goals.  

Review the objective of the program and the way it is achieved.  Knowing that we must put on a slightly different set of ‘glasses’ in our current environment, can the objective be achieved with less in-person participation and/or adding a hybrid component.  Explore creative ways to deliver ROI.

Attendee Experience

When considering participation, have you thoroughly considered the attendees for this program?  It is best to evaluate where they will be traveling from and what obstacles they might encounter.  What are the demographics of the group? Are they in a high-risk group or serve high-risk populations?  Has the organization taken the time to understand what will make attendees feel comfortable during their travels and at the program?  The insight you gain will help your decision making as well as coordinate communication and onsite plans. 

With these factors in mind, it is time to look further into the dates, locations, and liabilities associated with the fully executed contract.  The current and projected government requirements for your destination will play a large role in the decisions that you make. If your dates are in the near term and the state government has a 5-step plan, you should be able to uncover the locations detailed parameters on allowed gatherings and travel restrictions. Because of the constantly changing environment, the local guidelines should be reviewed regularly during your planning process and assessed at various intervals. 

Understand all the contracts that you have signed for the program, especially the hotel contract, to review liabilities, contract clauses, deposit dates, space capacity, and guest room block.  Gather all the details together to review the risk in its entirety. Will adjustments need to be made based on the answers to the goal and attendee exercise that you undertook?  Review the benchmark dates within the contract to understand your liabilities over time as you evaluate the changing environment. Update the floor plan to account for physical distancing and revised set-up needs. Understand the agenda and consider practices that you did not anticipate when initially contracting – adjusted registration process, longer meals, and sanitation timing. Revise your timing and agenda to reflect these activities.

It is also important to research and consider barriers such as corporate travel restrictions, budget limitations, approval process, and the optics of having the program.  There are often creative ways to work through these barriers and have a successful event – consider hybrid options, streamline spending, as well as showcasing the benefits of face-to-face interactions in a safe environment. 

Venue Accommodations

Are they open and staffed appropriately? Are they planning to follow new protocols for cleanliness and when do they feel that they are going to be able to meet all the standards?  Can they do a video call with the planning team to walk through the arrival experience, lobby, outlets, guest rooms and maybe even outdoor space?  Does the venue have room diagrams to share showcasing set up requirements? 

Once you have done your due diligence or worked with your strategic event management partner and venue contact on these considerations, you will be able to make decisions on the future of the event.  In some cases, moving forward with an in-person event or a hybrid event is going to be exciting for all parties involved.  In other instances, it may be best to work together to find a better time to host the event to meet the needs of the organization and attendees and maximize the capabilities of the venue.  

The M&IW team is fortunate to have experiences in contract negotiations based on our wide range of industry background and an average of 18-years of experience per buyer on the procurement team. To learn more about becoming hotel contract ready, email M&IW Director of Procurement, Denise Farrell at for a free consultation.