In the weeks after the September 11 tragedies, organizations around the country and the world have had to make critical decisions about their events, taking into account safety, perceptions, and financial concerns. Here are the issues the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, Alexandria, Va., evaluated on its way toward a decision about its 2001 Educational Conference scheduled for October.

  1. Consider the message you want to convey with your decision. Do you want to proceed as normally as possible, as has been urged by President Bush, or cancel in deference to this tragedy and the nation's state of mind?

  2. Examine the viability of a meeting that likely would have low attendance, and possibly sponsors, exhibitors, and speakers canceling.

  3. Review hotel contracts for performance obligations and force majeure provisions.

  4. Assess statements on cancellation policies from major hotel chains.

  5. Review your event cancellation insurance policy to determine if the exclusion for war and terrorism would prevail, and what recourse would be available if the meeting were to be held with decreased attendance.

  6. Contact major suppliers — AV, decoration companies, production companies, shuttle service, entertainment, and housing and registration if outsourced — to determine which, if any, obligations would be required if the event were canceled.

  7. Poll peers inside the industry and externally to see how they are addressing the issue.

  8. Ascertain how your organization can attempt to recoup lost revenues through legal recourse and insurance.

AMCP decided to hold its conference as scheduled, but was working with suppliers, staff, and attendees to ensure its success. If you're anticipating attendance shortfalls, here are some meeting modifications to consider:

  1. Renegotiate contracts to reduce or eliminate attrition penalties for sleeping room and catering shortfalls.

  2. Ask the hotel to waive the reservation cutoff date to further entice attendees to come to the meeting.

  3. E-mail attendees to let them know the organization's decision.

  4. Determine your attendee registration and housing cancellation policy.

  5. Provide an alternate mode of transportation for staff who fear to fly.

  6. Reduce hotel guarantees if possible.

  7. Modify room sets for a reduced attendee base.

  8. Enhance security.

  9. Increase cybercafé hours so that attendees can travel without laptops and still keep in touch with the office.

  10. Encourage casual attire to help attendees comply with airline requests for limited carry-on luggage.

  11. Develop an on-site management plan that includes dissemination of information during an emergency situation as well as emergency evacuation procedures.

Source: The American Society of Association Executives' September 21 audioconference addressing cancellation issues arising from the tragedy.