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CASE STUDY: Meeting Management in a Crisis

Event Travel Management (ETM) helped a client using meeting management to react quickly in a crisis and save USD $46.75M in verified savings.

ETM partnered immediately with a client to put together a crisis response for their managed meetings program, achieving verified savings across all booked events.

Read on to find out how.

$46M in verified savings - banner image


As the world quickly changed due to the COVID-19 crisis, our client’s managed meetings program proved to be a powerful asset in staying calm and implementing a measured plan to address all booked events. We immediately partnered with the client in putting together a crisis management response.


One of our first steps in the crisis response was to review all signed agreements and assess Force Majeure, Cancellation, and Rebooking clauses. This information fed into summarised reports which highlighted milestone decision dates and the potential financial impact. Armed with this information, the client was able to make smart decisions about how to proceed for each individual group program.

Some events were canceled immediately due to impossibility; either a travel ban or venue closure. Others were not yet impacted, and the future was uncertain at best. It was the latter group of events that required the most thoughtful consideration. To address these groups, we employed the following approach:

  • Daily updates to meeting-related data and statuses to produce a “single source of truth” report encompassing information for all events.
  • Daily meetings with the client followed by daily team meetings to action and resolve challenges.
  • Identify team members with the best relationship with each supplier to handle all contracts in play with that supplier.
  • Developing consistent messaging to be shared with suppliers.
  • Individual outreach to meeting stakeholders to discuss circumstances applicable to their unique situation.
  • Partnering with the client’s legal team to address outlier situations.

We were also able to find some unique solutions for some of the groups. For example, the first group to cancel was already on-site at a luxury resort in the Southeast. Due to internal changes within the client organisation, it is unknown if that program will operate again in the future making it difficult to guarantee a rebooking.

During the cancellation discussions, another stakeholder had a need to hold an event in the same locale. With our insight into all available rebooking credits, we were able to guide the stakeholder to the hotel with the credit available. This required some conversations internally with the client as well as with the hotel. Without a central source to monitor existing rebooking credits, this could have easily been a missed opportunity.


Some of the challenges encountered along the way included:

  • Difficulty maintaining consistent communication with suppliers due to their furloughs, lay-offs and closures.
  • Differing interpretations of the key contract clauses.
  • Answering the question: “Just because the program can travel, does it mean that it should?
  • Determining the impact to the attendee experience due to alterations to services and amenities at hotels and reduced air lift to certain destinations.


Our overall strategy led to the immediate rebooking of 10% of the programs into 2021 with the same property. For the remaining programs, our client paid approximately 1% in sunk costs for hotel/venue cancellation fees. An additional 5% remains available to use as rebooking credits for future events. The remaining 88% of hotel/venue cancellation fees were either waived through successful negotiation or by evoking force majeure.

In addition, the decision to halt airline ticketing in mid-March avoided ticketing almost 4,000 attendees for savings in excess of USD $3.6M. Some attendees were already ticketed and we handled negotiations with the airlines to cancel the tickets and track credits for future use totalling more than USD $500,000 and 1,100 transactions.

Collectively, these efforts saved the client USD $46.75M in verified savings.

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