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Positive Spin

Posted by Donna Airoldi on September 11, 2006

One of my mottos is "No expectations; no disappointments." But let's face it, there are just some things in life one should be excited about and anticipate with great joy -- such as a college graduation, birth of a child or one's wedding. As we all know however, life's special moments don't always turn out to be grand affairs, at least not the kind that we plan for.

Take Kyle Paxman's story, published last week on Yahoo!. Just six weeks before her wedding day, she found out her fiance was cheating on her. She called off the upcoming nuptuals and was able to cancel her contracts with most of the service providers she had hired, save for the venue for the reception and the hotel room block she had reserved. Rather than drag out the negative aspects of this situation and try to fight for a reimbursement with a lawsuit, she decided to turn the reception into a benefit for the Vermont Children's Aid Society and CARE USA, a nonprofit that fights poverty by empowering women.

Organizations that are faced with paying thousands or sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in cancellation or attrition charges when they're unable to hold their scheduled meetings or if attendance is below expections will often bargain with venues to have the charges applied to promised future business. Or they'll send out an announcement through meeting planner channels that certain blocks of room are available at a discount.

But this article had me realize that companies faced with such a cancellation could do the same as Paxman, and turn the would-be meeting into a fundraising or even marketing event, especially since we're in a suppliers' market, meaning those fees are high and hotels are less willing to negotiate deals, coupled with companies increasingly looking to "do good," as demonstrated in Incentive's August cover story (available here on our new Web site ManageSmarter.com). Instead of just paying the fees, organizations could most likely write the expense off as a tax deduction, and in the process, raise money and/or awareness for important issues, not to mention get a good dose of positive PR.


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