September 01, 1999
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio September 1999 Current Issue
September 1999 lawandplan.gifPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:

The Law & the Planner

By Jonathan T. Howe, Esq.


Rely on legalese to guard against Y2K glitches, bad links and other cyber-dangers

Some in our industry have embraced technology, relying on software, the Internet, e-mail and other conveniences in the daily course of doing business. Others have run from it, pretending planning is still just about dates, rates and blocks, and the only tools needed are a phone and a file drawer.

Yet today, even technophobes have to recognize that everything around us relies in some way on technology. At the very least, it is important to protect ourselves from the problems technology can bring.

Will the world end on New Year's Eve? It's doubtful, but if you're planning a meeting on or just after the much-feared date, be sure the contract addresses potential glitches. Following is a sample Y2K provision that may be included in meeting contracts; the word "Group" should be changed to your organization's name.

Facility, on behalf of itself, its officers, directors, corporate owners, management company or franchise owner, represents and warrants that for all Group meetings and/or events scheduled to occur at Facility after Dec. 31, 1999, all computer software systems controlled by the Facility including, but not limited to, systems controlling reservations, communications, electronic locks, environmental, fire and life safety, HVAC controls, lighting, power generation, security, utilities, elevators and escalators, property management, and any other systems affecting Facility's physical property or services, guest safety or guest comfort are Year 2000 compliant.

For purposes of this provision, "Year 2000 compliant" shall mean the Facility's computer software systems are designed to be used prior to, during and after the calendar year 2000 A.D. and will operate during each such time period without error relating to date data, specifically including any error relating to, or the result of, date data which represents or references different centuries or more than one century.

The Facility represents and warrants that Group attendees and meetings will not be affected negatively by the malfunction of any computers or computer software under the direction or control of the Facility. Should such a malfunction occur, the parties agree that Group and Group attendees will be compensated for all direct damages incurred and for any material inconvenience suffered by attendees. Facility will provide Group with contingency plans in the event of a computer system failure at the Facility that has the potential of affecting the Group event or the safety or comfort of attendees.

Facility further represents and warrants it has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that vendor computers and systems that interface with the Facility also are Year 2000 compliant.

If your organization has a meetings Web site, hyperlinks to related sites can be helpful. For example, linking the site to a convention and visitors bureau or the hotel enables attendees to get information about the destination.

Go ahead and link, but state that you are not responsible for any material on the linked sites. We suggest the following explanation.

The links on this Web site are provided only for the convenience of Group Web site visitors. Group has no interest in, responsibility for or control over the linked site. Group makes no promises or warranties of any kind, expressed or implied, including those of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, as to the content of the linked site. In no event shall Group be liable for any damages resulting from use of these links, even if Group has been informed of the possibility of such liability.

As always, consultation with competent legal counsel is important even in cyberspace

Jonathan T. Howe, Esq., is a senior partner in the Chicago and Washington, D.C., law firm of Howe & Hutton, Ltd., which specializes in meetings, travel and hospitality law.

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