District and Track Coordinator Association of Gospel Rescue Missions North Kansas City, Kan.
“Our keynote speaker called the day before the conference and canceled. I had to scramble to find someone to fill the spot. I went to the national association president and asked if he would be a presenter for that meeting. Fortunately, he was able to do it, and it was seamless for the people who attended.
“Another challenging moment happened during the final meal at a conference. A lot of people decided to stick around for the meal, but as we were waiting for our food, which was running late to begin with, a fire alarm went off. All the attendees had to go outside in 45-degree weather, and we had to stay out there for about an hour. We finally were allowed back into the building, but unfortunately a lot of people didn't return for the meal because they had to catch flights. It was very disappointing, so I spoke with the banquet manager and renegotiated the price based on the delay of the meal and the fire alarm interruption. He ended up taking about 50 percent off the bill.”
Laurel J. DeBert
Office Administrator/Event Planner Presbyterian Church in America Atlanta
“We are in the process of planning this year's general assembly (denominational annual business meeting) to be held in Dallas. Five years ago, we negotiated awith a hotel for 800 sleeping rooms and approximately 20 meeting rooms to hold 2,500 attendees; unfortunately, in November, the hotel broke the contract. Needless to say, we were scrambling to find a new venue.
“We have found a new hotel, but it has been a bit of a struggle to negotiate the prices that we would have received at the first hotel. The skills I learned at the RCMA conferences on negotiatinghave come in handy. I just finished negotiating for lower food and beverage costs. I let them know that I was wary of using their hotels in other cities because they have been so difficult to work with this year. This approach got their attention. A conference call with us and the bigwigs of the hotel chain was set up, and I was able to negotiate a price of $22 per dinner for the special events in conjunction with our convention, from the $35 per dinner that they originally quoted.”
Meeting Planner IFCA International Grandville, Mich.
“There was a computer mix-up at the conference hotel. We had asked for 225 rooms, but for some reason, they only blocked 150 rooms. When people were calling, they were getting turned away because the hotel was saying they were booked. We didn't realize this was happening until we got calls from some of our delegates. We called the hotel right away, and they explained that it was a computer glitch and straightened it out right away. The unfortunate part was that we didn't know how many people were turned away before we were notified.”
Executive Director International Conference of Police Chaplains Destin, Fla.
“The most challenging and most memorable meeting planning moment happened at the banquet of our annual seminar in Bismarck, N.D., in 1993. It had been raining all day, and about halfway through the entertainment portion of our program, the skies really opened up and we lost power. Soon after, we were informed that the parking lot was flooding and that we would have to move our cars. Fortunately, we had walkie-talkies to communicate with hotel staff, and they were able to provide us with candles and flashlights so that we could continue the festivities. Some of the guests also volunteered their flashlights.
“We were pretty much set, which was good, because the emergency lights went out soon afterward. This was also the year that the person presenting awards was going to do it via telephone, which they were still able to do. This worked out well since we wouldn't have been able to do it using the P.A. system.”