Hurricane season is upon
us, lasting from June through November. In a survey
conducted online last month, M&C gauged how planners
prepare to meet in storm-prone areas -- or if they avoid them. Of
the 171 respondents, 51 percent had an event scheduled for a
hurricane-prone destination in 2007.
The bulk of those heading into the
Storm Belt this year (67 percent) will be going to Florida. Texas
was next, with 13 percent holding meetings there, followed by New
Orleans (11 percent), the Caribbean and Mexico (10 percent each)
and the Mississippi Gulf Coast (6 percent).
Are planners being lured to these destinations
with sweet deals? Sometimes. More than half the sample (53 percent)
said no incentive was offered to get them to book in a
hurricane-prone area. A hurricane guarantee and reduced room rates
both were cited by 21 percent of the sample as incentives they
accepted when booking their meetings, 19 percent took free hotel
meeting space, 16 percent had attrition fees waived and 5 percent
got free convention center meeting space.
Just more than a quarter of the
respondents (28 percent) protect their organizations with
cancellation insurance for these events, while only 12 percent said
they buy cancellation insurance for every event. Half of the sample
said they never buy such policies.
For 57 percent of respondents, the two
severe seasons of 2004 and 2005 did not affect their likelihood of
booking a meeting in hurricane-prone areas, but 38 percent said
they are less likely to book in these destinations now. Those
storm-tossed seasons prompted 38 percent of the planners to
strengthen their force majeure clauses to address weather; 43
percent felt their clauses already were strong enough.