On the whiteboard in my office are two words that I look at every day: fair and logical. As I work, I continuously ask myself and the person at the other end of the phone, if the situation is balanced.
The misconception of the work that we do is that we arm wrestle the venue until they cry ‘Uncle’. While that is certainly a style that seems to work for some in the short term, it is not our philosophy. Having grown up in a very small community, connected with other small villages, one comes to learn quickly that what you do today will be with you for a very long time. If we are not ‘fair and logical’ to the hotel then how can we expect the hotel to be the same to us. While the contracts all start out one sided in favour of the hotel, it is our role to balance and mitigate the risk.
A number of years ago, we signed a contract with a hotel that included a ‘no construction’ clause. About thirty days out from the event, the AV company went to do a site and found that the entire lobby was under construction and there was no way it would be complete in time for our meeting. The best part though was that the hotel had also changed brands in the two years from the time the contract was signed. They were courteous to let us know that they were going to fly a new flag but were not informative to let us know that they had commenced with the construction. In fact the GM sent me a note six months earlier saying that no construction would take place during the meeting.
While the construction was one detail that was keeping my client (and myself) awake at night, the brand change was also of concern because the hotel went from a five star to a four star. The hotel began the conversation by justifying the contracted rate because the hotel would be ‘brand new’ and perhaps even increase the value to the delegate. My response was, while the hotel would be wonderfully refreshed, the perception from delegates is that the new flag should be less money than the former flag as it is ‘one and even two steps down’. Hotel companies spend a tremendous amount of money giving themselves an identity and with that comes a price point. We, the consumer, pay more if we feel there is reason and value to upgrade to a higher calibre brand.
In the end, after much discussion and open dialogue, we settled at a very good place. The hotel compensated for ‘pain and suffering’ and adjusted the rate to better reflect the new positioning of the brand. The custom clauses that we initially used helped mitigate the risk and thankfully the one email that promised ‘no construction’ was retrieved from archives. We had found a balance…
Here is a video that is an example of a ‘fair and logical’ solution to a growing concern. Christian The Lion was bought from a department store in 1969 and released back in the wild in Kenya in 1970. This video has been viewed over 100 million times on You Tube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btuxO-C2IzE (OK it’s a stretch to connect to this month’s theme but I just love the reunion scene a year later!) My takeaway is that travelling the ‘fair and logical’ road may come with some pain but it leads to the right place in the end.
Timely yours, Brenda