Housing programs are tricky things. They require a crystal ball and a magic wand. And most planners are only given the magic wand at our initiation into the planning world.
I love contracting with hotels. I enjoy the negotiation process, I even like tweaking wording and running contracts by our legal counsel to see how I did. I probably enjoy it because I usually have done well (I wanted to be a lawyer until I determined that I didn’t want to spend an extra 3 years doing post-graduate work).
It’s the crystal ball part that troubles me. Looking into the future to determine how many sleeping rooms a group will need doesn’t always take into account a major snow storm or hurricane. The crystal ball never seems to take into account the potential for a financial slow-down/recession/crisis/bail-out.
Somehow, though, we seem to remember to include wording that protects us against “acts of God” (hurricanes and blizzards). Why can’t we contract for “financial crises”? What language could we include that might be measurable enough to protect us?
If you gauge the state of the overall meetings industry by how many people are trying to resell their rooms (I check the MeCo Room ReSale board and talk with fellow planners), things aren’t awesome. They’re OK, but some groups are suffering.
10/3 Edit: After my initial posting, I read this article by Sue Pelletier, MeetingsNew Web Editor, regarding the impact that the financial meltdown is having on the meetings industry. It’s interesting and has several links to additional information about the slow-down and the state of our industry.
What suggestions do you have? What other odd things have you had to deal with that you hadn’t protected your group against?
I’ll come back to this topic as I try to think of a way to protect my meetings against other “crises” that could affect the pickup of our hotel blocks.