It’s a Good Thing We Have Contingency Plans
Here we are, not even two weeks into the New Year, and the topic of discussion with clients is once again dealing with whether to move forward with in-person activities or continue with the virtual option.
Pre-COVID, our communications strategies for events always included a contingency plan. But it addressed such things like what if it rains on our outdoor music festival or what happens if the keynote speaker’s flight is delayed. Those were relatively easy things to adjust for.
Now, in this COVID world, we don’t worry about rain because chances are we’re more concerned about whether or not we can even have the event in the first place.
I’ve signed contracts with venues countless times. I glance over the payment terms and the dates I have to put in my final numbers for catering. I knew it said something about force majeure, but until early 2020, I had no idea what that meant.
Force majeure addresses unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract. Things like war, riots, earthquakes, hurricanes, lightning, and explosions, for example, are force majeure events. It could also mean energy blackouts, unexpected legislation, lockouts, slowdowns, and strikes.
For many contracts, COVID-19 and its effects qualified as force majeure, in large part, because the venues were closed for business, making it impossible for the event organizer to fulfill its commitment.
That provision is a bit murkier now as COVID protocols differ from city to city, state to state, country to country. If you find yourself in the unenviable position of having to make a decision about moving forward with an in-person event, make sure to review your contract very carefully. What does it say about cancelling an event, will there be penalties, can you move it to another date/time?
Most venues will want to keep your business and may be able to negotiate with you – know what you are willing to do and be sure to update the contract to reflect those changes.
And always ALWAYS read the contracts, including all the fine print.
If you are looking to plan an event or conference, reach out, we’d love to talk more about how we can work with you.