by Jennifer Lee | August 01, 2017
When it comes to negotiating contracts with hotels and other venues, are meeting planners asking the right questions? Are they considering the right elements? What are must-haves, and what can they concede? These were some of the questions Jonathan Howe, partner of Howe & Hutton Ltd. and longtime M&C legal expert, posed to attendees at Meetings Quest, an educational and networking event for planners hosted by Meet AC and held at the Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa in Atlantic City in June.

This conclave was the latest in what's generally considered to be the longest-running series of educational and networking events in the United States for planners, having begun in 1984. Programming included insights from industry leaders, a keynote address and an appointment-based trade show.

The LandShark Bar & Grill served as the site of the opening celebration, where attendees enjoyed live music and dancing on the beach, as well as the chance to participate in rolling-chair tours of the fabled Boardwalk.

The following day's sessions began with a welcome from Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian and Jim Wood, president and CEO of Meet AC. Then attorney Howe began his tutorial in "Your Market, Your Contracts and How You Negotiate Them." Planners need to read every word of a contract, he stressed, no matter how standard it seems, and always question any phrasing or terminology that is unclear or makes them uncomfortable.  

Up next was "Crisis Management and Event Security." Steven Hacker, former president of the International Association of Exhibition & Events, provided an overview of how to plan for a safe gathering and how to respond in an emergency. He explained several key steps to take in advance, including:

 Define the proper levels of protection for exhibits, products and management equipment, personnel and VIPs (speakers, staff, CEOs, etc.);

 Evaluate on-site resources such as the facility's own emergency-response plan and security personnel;

 Determine on-site communication  methods, including all available technology provided by the venue;

 Trouble-shoot potential threats that might be associated with the event, facility, location and audience; and

Be aware of all available emergency medical services.

Seven-time Olympic medalist Shannon Miller, the most-decorated gymnast from the United States in the history of the Olympic Games and member of the celebrated Magnificent Seven team at the 1996 Games, provided a keynote address on how the gold-medal mindset can lead to success. For Miller, this includes having a positive attitude, setting goals, the willingness to work as part of  a team and being committed to achieving excellence.

The event concluded with an appointment-based trade show that featured a lively exchange of ideas and the generation of meetings business between attendees and suppliers.  

The next Meetings Quest event will be held in Plano, Texas, Dec. 5-6, 2017, with the Mississippi Gulf Coast the site for March 13-14, 2018 (venue to be determined). For additional information, visit meetingsquest.com.