Successful Meetings - March 2009 - (Page 22)

PLANNER’S WORKSHOP meetings law D. Benson Tesdahl, Esq. Too Close for Comfort I n nearly every industry, there are at least two organizations competing for business from the same group of potential customers or dues-paying members. A major problem can arise when one industry association inadvertently holds its convention at the same time or very close in time to that of a competing association, especially when the conventions are based in the same hotel or facility. When this happens, each group will find itself competing directly against the other for the same attendees. This can result in one or both organizations suffering major attrition, because the limited pool of persons who normally attend such conventions will be forced by time and budget to choose one event or the other. On rare occasions, this problem is exacerbated by intentional gamesmanship by one industry group seeking to obtain a tactical advantage over another. For example, industry group X may wait for competing group Y to announce the date and location of its 2011 conference; group X will then book its own conference anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks earlier, and perhaps in the very same facility. When this happens, the potential attendees and the potential exhibitors will tend to sign up for the earlier of the two conferences, or, where the conferences are back-to-back, the earlier conference tends to get the advantage of both its own attendees plus those arriving early for the second conference. In short, there tends to be a tactical advantage to holding your conference first. Is there any way to preclude your conference from having its attendees and exhibitors drawn away by a competing conference in the same facility? Solving the Unwelcome Competitor Problem If your organization has ever faced this kind of competition and confusion, know that you can use your contractual power with the meeting facility to reduce the chances of having a competitor steal your thunder and ruin your conference. This can best be done by asking the hotel or conference center Ben Tesdahl, Esq., is an attorney concentrating on nonprofit, corporate, tax, and contract law, including meeting and convention law. He is with the law firm of Powers, Pyles, Sutter & Verville, P in Washington DC. He can be reached at .C. (202) 466-6550 or at 22 I SM I March 2009 I Illustration Credit: Mark Armstrong to insert a clause into your facility contract similar to the following: “Hotel acknowledges that the use of any portion of Hotel’s facilities during the time of Group’s conference by an organization that competes with Group would cause Group irreparable financial and other harm. Therefore, Hotel agrees that it will not book a meeting, conference, or other event from another organization in Group’s same general industry within X days before or after the date of Group’s event, unless Hotel receives the prior written consent of Group.” Of course, some hotels and convention centers may not agree to such a clause, but most understand that having competing groups in-house at the same time or close in time is in nobody’s best interest and that agreeing to a clause like this makes good business sense. It cannot prevent your rival from organizing a competing conference using a neighboring facility owned by a different hotel chain, but the clause will at least ensure that you are not sharing the same facility with a competitor, with each of you trying to steal the limelight from the other. SM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Successful Meetings - March 2009

Successful Meetings - March 2009
Editor's Letter
News Update
Management Matters
Meetings Law
Mouth for Sale
And the Award Goes to...
Taking Green Initiatives to the Top
Events of Presidential Proportion
It's a Small World After All
Places + Spaces
Big Island Supplement-Insert
NYC Metro
The Bahamas

Successful Meetings - March 2009