While most cancellations began in 2020, companies may still plan to cancel meetings or restrict travel well into 2021 or beyond. Having a strong cancellation strategy in place to support those decisions will ease the process and help maximize bookings.
Best Practices FOR A Meeting CANCELlATION STRATEGY
Implement a tracking tool
Track cancellation dates and amounts in your meetings management tool. If you aren’t currently using a tracking tool, it’s something to consider implementing moving forward. This will allow you to report on what total penalties have been paid at any given time if your organization chooses to cancel any of their meetings in response to a global event such as COVID-19.
Be mindful of meeting variations
Manage new cancellations on a case by case basis. While the response to the pandemic or your meeting policy might be consistent, the circumstances around each meeting and location are unique and will continue to be fluid for the foreseeable future. For negotiating extensions on your existing cancellation credits, you may have success with extending these dates in bulk. Review your executed contracts and the various penalty amounts and dates on an ongoing basis, and only cancel as needed on the dates that give you the best opportunity to enact force majeure or even negotiate a waived or reduced penalty based on the current status of the virus and/or safety protocols in that location.
Keep up with cancellation dates
Have a detailed understanding of your date thresholds for when the next tier of cancellation penalties will come into play to help mitigate additional costs. Date tiers and local government policies work hand-in-hand when trying to negotiate cancellations or enacting force majeure.
You’ll have more success extending credits by making the request before credits lapse. Event venue and hotel partners want meetings to occur, even for future dates. Where possible, prioritize the use of these credits when your organization returns to in-person meetings. This will result in savings for your organization and goodwill with your venue partners.
Reschedule your event ASAP
And remember, a large number of meetings and events that were supposed to take place in 2020 have been pushed to the latter part of 2021 and 2022. The sooner space is reserved for your meetings, the better likelihood of getting dates, rates and space that are desirable to your organization. If you wait until the second half of 2021 to start this process, space will be limited and your ability to leverage your credits will be greatly diminished.
Implement credit sharing process
If you don’t already have a process in place for sharing available credits with meeting hosts across your organization, now would be the time to implement one to ensure maximum credit utilization. If your policy only allows the original meeting host to utilize their cancellation credit, this limits your ability to use that credit before it expires. Putting a policy in place allowing available credits to be used by any meeting host increases your chances of utilization and thereby saving your company money.