CLAUSE: “Hotel reserves the right to modify meeting space held for Group's meetings if Group's anticipated attendance numbers decrease.”

EFFECT: There are several concerns with this clause. First, the clause does not indicate by how much the group's anticipated attendance must decrease in order to trigger the hotel's ability to move the group's meeting(s) to a different meeting space. At the very least, this clause should be modified to indicate that such a move can only be made if the group's anticipated attendance decreases by 20 percent (or whatever figure is agreed upon by the parties).

Second, this clause does not explain how the hotel will determine if the group's anticipated attendance has decreased. Basing the anticipated decrease solely on the room block does not address alternate reasons for a smaller room block, such as a larger percentage of local attendees than expected or attendees booking at other hotels in the area.

Conversely, one of the reasons that the hotel wants this clause in the contract is to allow it to keep a proportionate amount of meeting space and sleeping rooms. If the group is using 75 percent of the meeting space and only 25 percent of the sleeping rooms the hotel has allocated to group business, it can be difficult for the hotel to sell the rest of the sleeping rooms because it will have to turn away groups that might also need meeting space.

Finally, the group may have a reason for keeping specific meeting space regardless of attendance numbers. For example, the group might need a certain size room to achieve the educational objectives of the meeting. It may determine that an open-space session needs a certain amount of square footage to be successful, regardless of attendance. Alternatively, a group might have chosen a room for its aesthetic appeal, not only for a reception or banquet, but perhaps also because the particular room has natural light, which is conducive to a good learning environment. Being shifted to a section of the ballroom with an air wall may be counterproductive to the group's learning orientation.


Tyra W. Hilliard, Esq., CMP, is a lawyer and speaker on legal, risk management, and ethical issues. Her law practice focuses on representing associations, nonprofits, and independent meeting and event professionals. Her Web site is www.tyrahilliard.com, and she can be reached by e-mail at tyra.hilliard@gmail.com.