Nobody wants to reschedule a meeting or event. It’s a huge headache for both sides of the meeting planner/venue equation. But cancellations and re-book-
ings have long been a reality most meeting plan-
ners face at various points in their careers.
In the current marketplace, there have never
been as many stumbling blocks just waiting to derail an event taking place in its host city. Of course
there is terrorism and there are other random acts
of violence that are all too common now. Health
scares have become routine. Controversial new local and state laws can also play a part in a group’s
decision to pull out of a contracted meeting.
Natural disasters — like the major hurricanes that
hit the U.S. mainland and Caribbean this year, or
massive wildfires like the recent ones in Northern
California — can also create the need to relocate.
For a variety of reasons, sometimes venues that
are supposed to be ready for an event, well, aren’t.
When any of these potential disruptors occur,
it’s natural to first think about approaching large
destinations that have high hotel-room inventories. But if you think it’s only the first-tier cities
that will have spare rooms late in the game, think
again. That’s when a planner needs to keep a cool
head and reach out to trusted contacts who’ve
solidified their mutual relationship over the years
with stellar results from meetings past. And often
the solution can be found in smaller, mid-market
venues — even if the event is large.
Don Welsh, president and CEO of Destinations
International, describes the “community of support” that a CVB and its partners can provide
when the unexpected strikes. That is arguably
even more the case in midsized destinations.
“They know the availability of convention
centers, hotels, whether there is an event taking
place that could preclude a group from going, or
whether they have space for the event but maybe
not the hotel rooms,” says Welsh. “These destina-
tions have a marketing manager that is not only
charged with looking at their own destination, but
does analysis on their competitors.”
Indianapolis, for example, is best equipped
for meetings sized anywhere up to 25,000 — but
the city does annually host a pair of 50,000-plus
events: Gen Con (a gaming group) and FFA (for-
merly known as Future Farmers of America).
And when a huge group recently had to leave a
major U.S. city, they turned to Indy. “I think holding those big events looked good on our resume
and helped in the sales process of stepping in for a
tier-one city to handle this convention,” Visit Indy
Director of Sales Dustin Arnheim says.
In addition to that coup, here are more details
on other cases when non-supersized destinations
stepped up big time when the chips were down.
Hurricane Irma blew into Florida this past
September with wall-to-wall media coverage.
Thankfully, the damage wasn’t as bad as many
were predicting, but it did affect groups planning
to meet in October at the under-expansion Miami
Beach Convention Center.
Miami Beach’s $615 million renovation and
expansion will bump the total number of square
feet to 1. 4 million. The LEED-certified facility will
include 500,000 square feet of exhibit space, advanced technology, and versatile indoor/outdoor
public spaces. And even though work is ongoing,
and the expansion is due to be unveiled in 2018,
is an event
have space for
the event but
maybe not the
When a 40,000-person group had to leave a major U.S. city,
Indianapolis was able to accommodate it