Unfinished or inadequate venues are a common problem in meeting planning.


Unfinished or inadequate venues are a common problem in meeting planning

What would you do if you’re hosting a meeting and the speaker collapses onstage? (Correct answer: Call 911 and clear the room.)

When businesses plan meetings or conferences, they don’t like to think about what could go wrong. But part of hosting a good meeting is knowing what to do when disaster strikes. We rounded up four local meeting professionals to discuss how they handle setbacks. Below are their stories about things that went wrong and how they were able to fix them.

Sci-fi solution:

During one of our client’s annual conferences, their keynote speaker at the last minute was unable to travel due to an injury. With a lot of collaboration between my team, we came up with the idea of having a hologram of our keynote. It was a complete success and everyone in attendance was blown away.

Roger Mitchell, partner, Red Oak Meetings & Events

Hello Dubai:

Our client had to suddenly cancel an internal meeting to Dubai, and they were in full penalty for that meeting (they couldn’t get a refund). Meridian Loyalty was handling their global president’s club trip to Las Vegas, which was due to take place in three months. Working with our client, we helped them determine it was more cost-effective to cancel their current president’s club trip and move it from Las Vegas to Dubai.

Meg Proskey, vice president of group travel, Meridian Loyalty Solutions

Shrunken venue:

A recent unexpected challenge involved a hotel we booked two and a half years in advance but, to everyone’s surprise, had diminished by the time of the event. We had to turn the meeting around onsite for both our client and their attendees. We brokered a discounted room rate, free breakfast and coffee service and, since we pass commissions on to our clients, we ensured the commission would be based on the original, higher room rate.

Molly Hackett, founder and principal, Nix Conference and Meeting Management

Conflicting egos:

Once we were facilitating a strategy session and one executive took us aside and told us what to do. Less than 15 minutes later, another executive – who thought they were the one in charge – told us to do the exact opposite. Instead of taking either’s direction, we scrapped our agenda and spent an hour with everyone in the room talking about what a great outcome might be and had a hard conversation about culture and alignment.

Matt Homann, founder and CEO, Filament