Some thoughts for wedding/event industry professionals How do we go forward in the time of Covid-19?
By: Simone Sant-Ghuran, Founder & Editor-in-Chief. www.trinidadweddings.com and TW Wed-Zine Magazine
The Covid-19 pandemic is nothing short of a living nightmare for the world at large but especially for those who are infected and immunocompromised, at this time.
Its consequences and trickle-down effects are also now both immediate and far-reaching, for those of us in the event/wedding industry ( and across all other industries).
In this type of constantly shifting global situation, the health and welfare of every global citizen is critical. As event and wedding planners, we are usually held responsible for the welfare and well-being of guests, patrons, participants, exhibitors, sponsors, venues, host destinations and now this responsibility is weightier than ever.
Here are 4 business aspects we must take into consideration as event/wedding professionals, going forward:
1. Re-look the force majeure clause in your contract
As event/wedding planners, the term “force majeure” is not new to most of us – we know it as covering ‘Acts of God” and natural disasters to name a few. It is a French term that translates to “superior force,” and is usually defined by those who are signing the contract. It outlines the partial termination of a contract as well as termination of performance. In the future, event and wedding planners must show that COVID-19 falls within the list of unforeseen items under the force majeure clause and that it impacted the event in such a way as to make it commercially impracticable or frustrate its purpose. It must be noted that each event contract is different and an attorney’s advice is strongly recommended for this aspect.
2. Event Cancellation Insurance policies
Most of us purchase liability policies which are meant as protection if someone gets injured or falls sick at our event. Other types of liability policies protect hosts/planners from liability if there is damage to the venue, caused by the event. Going forward, we will now have to obtain additional riders/coverage for epidemics and other biological risks. Event cancellation insurance and infectious disease coverage are available but are subject to a list of exclusions.
However, even if this type of coverage is acquired, (as it is with any type of cancellation claim) the event has to be either impossible or unsafe to stage, in order for any insurance payouts to occur. A voluntary decision to cancel, on the part of the event host/promoter, in order to avoid exposure to patrons, just won’t be enough to justify a payout and will therefore be at the event host’s own risk. We also need to pay particular attention to when the deadline for filing claims would be (e.g. no more than 30 days after the event?)
In your contracts, you would also want to be specific about how much notice is required for each level of cancellation and what clauses are included in the case of postponement.
3. Examine the ramifications of taking your event online
It may seem like the next logical move is to take your previously F2F (face to face) event online, maybe using a hybrid meeting model – one where attendees congregate in small groups in different geographic locations and are connected via technology, such as Zoom meetings or other software.
However, if you already have cancellation insurance for your event, you may run into an issue with your insurer, if the live event is replaced by an online one – over the exact dates. You may also want to assess how an online event affects attendees who were previously attending F2F events for continuing education credit? What would be your policy on that?
4. Stepping up Stakeholder Communication
The importance of your corporate communication and public relations preparedness cannot be underscored. Your company should have a statement prepared in the event of COVID-19 or any other pandemic, and it must be reviewed by corporate leadership as well as an attorney, particularly if your event involves cancellations and refunds. The statement should follow Government guidelines or guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If your event involves foreign travel, bulletins about safe and healthy traveller practices should be communicated to all future attendees and venues.
In this time of crisis, we must stand together with our fellow event/wedding professionals. We should communicate with each other and share information, so that we are constantly “in the loop” with industry developments. We must feel free to able to call upon the veterans in our industry and to also be unselfish in providing guidance to our fledgeling planners/event professionals.
My door is always open…
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