Every aspect of MICE planning revolves around pre-preparation.  Certainly we need to include the ‘what if’ principle in case of the unexpected.  December 2013 has had momentous happenings which for both planner and venue plus other additional services has created challenges for the industry.

Impact: E-tolls
It was a wake-up call for those venue bookers that had paid deposits when the e-tolls kicked-in on the 3 December and would-be delegates/attendees sought alternative routes to either paying the tag fees or being threatened with a summons or two.  In turn, late arrivals with diary commitments or not attending at all, while firm numbers had been booked means hefty bottom-line commitment with limited return on investment.

Impact: Passing of an Icon
As for the passing of our nation’s – and indeed the world’s – icon Nelson Mandela, the country following the announcement is not quite at a standstill yet MICE attendances have been severely affected. Those that have paid deposits and large sums up-front are not smiling and doubtless many a face-to-face discussion has taken place between buyers and suppliers.

These are situations which border on the unexpected in the extreme which are virtually impossible to apply the ‘what if’ principle.

It is going to require cool heads and a great deal of understanding by all stake-holders to attempt damage control by the time we enter the coming year – and let’s face it – it all boils down to money.

Some perspectives from a variety of stances may provide food-for-thought going forward:

It is possible to insure against circumstances such as the highly unexpected. Event insurance is however short term – per event undertaking – and besides public liability plus other overall personal accident insurance, cover can prove expensive and hence this type of insurance is not often sought.

Venue Stance
Charges that can be negotiated are such items as space rental. A venue and indeed other service providers may waive this kind of charge based on the booking being re-scheduled to include their particular venue and services.

In the circumstance where final numbers have been provided and the venue has bought-in the supplies and even commenced the preparation side – this is a much greater dilemma.

It will be a rare occurrence for a venue to waive or be able to absorb the cost back into the stores.

Planner Stance
The client needs to be calm and understanding as this is a question of salvage, circumspection & the re-schedule terms and conditions.

Other Services
Décor, AV and the like is simpler to negotiate as it is unlikely that any upfront expense has been incurredThe MICE services may have hired-in certain equipment and props so once more it is important to be sensitive to the situation for which the service in question may find themselves in.  Registration and organising services for example could mean that much time and input may have been provided in advance of the booking date hence it is likely a charge would be liable for payment despite the possible re-scheduling arrangements.

The Law
Of course from the legal perspective it could be that suppliers and services may adamantly stick to the ‘letter’ of the contractual agreement yet in exceptional circumstances as experienced this December 13 – it is hoped the ‘spirit’ of the contractual agreement will be appreciated by all parties and we can move amicably into 2014.