How will the coronavirus impact the future of the meetings and events industry? Some of our views

April , 2020

We are in unprecedented times.

Already the Coronavirus Pandemic has identified a number of weak spots in the relationships that exist between Agencies and Suppliers (specifically Venues).

Contracts have been found to be incomplete in their coverage and occasionally have exposed one or other of the participating parties to great financial burden.

Memories in these situations are not always short- lived.

As a Board member of the Alliance of Independent Event Agents,  we have spent much of the last few weeks assisting members with navigation through contracts that have left agents staring down the barrel of  100 % cancellation fees, even though the venue can’t actually deliver the event following the restrictions put in place by the Government.

Attitudes seem to differ across the supply chain with some venues reacting positively and proactively, to assist clients and agencies by developing solutions that do not penalise either side in this ‘no one is to blame ‘ scenario, whereas a smaller number are using ill- designed, fortuitous, one sided contracts to deliver profits whilst not having to actually open their doors.

We have already started to help our members produce purchase contracts rather than using traditional supply contracts, hiring on terms that suit the agencies rather than those that suit the venues.

Additionally, the spotlight has fallen on how the various parties earn revenue from contractual arrangements. Again we have been helping members to develop clauses that deliver recompense in the case of cancellations. This is another issue that has been thrown up in these unusual circumstances.

Going forward, and in order for the economic and commercial equilibrium to return, a new sense of collaboration is required and the development of a true sense of partnership, where each element of the supply chain is working cohesively towards a common, beneficial goal.

The ‘take it or leave it’ attitude will hopefully become a thing of the past so that, should, God forbid, another unexpected, unprecedented set of circumstances come along, then the supply chain will work for each other rather than retreating into the current self-preservation silos.

I believe that ‘partnership’ and ‘collaboration’ will very much come to the front of relationships which in itself will probably mean that agents across the country will be reaching for the ‘Teach yourself Contract Law’ handbook.

This current crisis has probably provided many a sleepless night for the less experienced and less knowledgeable, ‘fair weather’, agents – potential financial exposure to punitive contract arrangements coupled with reduced incomes.

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