Rolling UP the Red Carpet? Imagine walking into your hotel one month before your meeting and finding the staff literally ripping up the carpets in the meeting rooms. That's what happened to Carol L. Roberts, association director, Association Management Resources, Lexington, Ky., this past April, when she checked out the facility hosting the 200-attendee National Association of State Information Resource Executives meeting. The hotel, which will remain unnamed, was in the midst of a major renovation, but nobody had bothered to give Roberts a clue.

"It was not a pretty sight," Roberts says. "The renovation was so extensive it had the potential to ruin our entire meeting." Roberts scrutinized her contract, only to find she had no recourse.

She met with the hotel staff, who, she says, were very responsive to her concerns. "We did work with the hotel so that the jackhammering and all of that could take place after our meeting," she says. Nevertheless, the day the meeting started, she walked into a conference room to find "they had finished pulling up carpet 30 minutes prior, and were scrambling to [install] the new carpet."

Determined not to face that calamity again, Roberts has developed a renovation clause she now inserts into hotel contracts. It stipulates that the hotel must notify her a year out if renovations are scheduled. "Even when the hotel notifies me, I have the choice to cancel my meeting with no penalty, or the hotel has to find me meeting space at a different property," she explains.

While hotels usually know their renovation timetable at least a few years in advance, she says, there's always the possibility--not at all unlikely in today's market--that a hotel will change hands and the new owners will initiate unexpected renovations. Roberts has that covered too. She writes in her contracts that hotels must notify her if they change ownership--and adds that her renovations clause is still valid, even with new ownership.

Have you faced one of those "planner's worst nightmares" situations? Tell us about it! Contact Tamar Hosansky by phone (978) 466-6358; fax (978) 466-8961; or e-mail thosansky@mail.aip.com.