Dante’s Seventh Circle of Hell” is how Dianne Davis, event producer for TulNet Meetings and Events, based
in Tulsa, OK, describes a recent five-day meeting she planned. Everything was all set for this
international publishing association to gather
in Fort Lauderdale, FL, for a stimulating conference that combined education, networking,
and discussion of topics related to the magazine publishing industry. Or so she thought.
Unexpected construction issues at the property
the group was meeting in led to a last-minute
cancellation by the hotel. Davis, a 25-year veteran of the events industry, has run into her
share of challenges, but when she turned to her
contract for relief this time, she found it didn’t
offer the protection she needed.
Here are some of the lessons about construction clauses that Davis learned the hard way,
along with some success stories of planners
whose contracts protected their events from
being wrecked by renovations.
The First Red Flag
When Davis signed the contract for the meet-
ing, she was aware of some construction go-
ing on at the hotel, but was told it would be
completed well before her meeting. The first
indication of a problem occurred a month be-
fore its kickoff when she learned that a terrace
overlooking the ocean where a reception was
to be held wasn’t going to be finished in time.
The hotel rep said the event would have to be
moved to the pool deck.
What Davis did: She said moving the event to
the pool deck was fine and went on with planning the event.
What Davis will do in the future: She knew
the hotel was under construction when she
booked it, so she should have added language
in her contract over and above standard clauses pertaining to what action will be taken if
construction is not complete in time.
John Foster, Esq., CHME, an attorney whose
firm, Foster, Jensen & Gulley, specializes in
the legal aspects of meetings and events, also
recommends requesting a general contractor’s
report. “It usually comes out every month and
contains the guidelines of project due dates,”
he says. “It will state whether a project is on
target to meet deadlines or not.”
Further, he says contracts should include a
date, six to 12 months in advance of the meet-
ing, whereby the group may terminate the
contract without liability on its part and hold
the hotel liable for cancellation if the general
contractor’s report indicates that the project
will not be completed by the meeting dates.
The hotel would also be required to assist in
finding alternate arrangements.
HOW A WELL-WRITTEN LEGAL AGREEMENT CAN
PROTECT YOUR MEETING FROM HOTEL RENOVATIONS