Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, the WHO officially announced that Coronavirus has officially been identified as a pandemic, and there are a lot of concerns on travel to different cities and countries. If you are hosting a wedding in the next 6-8 weeks, you may have a lot of questions on what your options are and what to do. Being informed and knowing what to ask for is important at this time. We have a few ways that you can get ahead of this with your venue and vendors and make an informed decision that works best for you.
If you are working with a hotel venue that you have a contract signed with, and are considering changes to your wedding date, needing to adjust your guest count, or wanting information on an event cancellation, it is imperative that you reach out to your contacts on site to understand the venue’s official policies regarding the virus. Questions to ask include:
Is there any official statement that the brand or property has released explaining where they stand on events with the spread of COVID-19?
What is the property doing to decrease the spread of the virus in its environment in regards to health and sanitation?
Cancellation vs. Postponement: If you are considering cancelling or postponing an upcoming event due to COVID-19, some things to discuss with your venue (within the country) would be:
What policy does your contract outline for cancelling or changing the date of your event - are there any exceptions for this scenario.
Would there be financial obligations for cancelling or postponing?
Would there be financial obligations on your rooms contract (if applicable) or your food and beverage contract?
Is there a timeframe in place for postponement dates for events? Before the end of 2020 or through 2021?
Would the Act of God or Force Majeure clause be enacted for your contract and what would that mean for you as the client?
Reductions: If you don't want to postpone or cancel your event, but are afraid you may not have the number of guests to meet your minimum or attrition, you may want to get more information on how the venue will assist you in this case.
If the guaranteed guest numbers reduce, will you still be held responsible to meet the minimum? Would it be possible to remove the minimum all together and pay only for the guests that attend? Ie: can the minimum for food and beverage be reduced to fit your current approximated guest count with cancellations being taken into consideration.
If our room night attrition isn’t met due to the guest count decrease, would it be possible to remove the obligation for the attrition all together? (Your guests would pay for the rooms they occupy, but you wouldn’t need to cover costs for the rooms that were held but are unoccupied due to the reduction of your guest count).
There are numerous scenarios you may face with vendors:
Cancellations by the Vendor: If your vendors are cancelling their contract, be sure to review the contract for guidance on how to move forward. Vendors may refund the deposit or offer alternatives for the services.
Vendor Postponement or Cancellations by the Client: If you cancel or postpone your event of your own accord, it’s important to read your vendor contracts to understand what your financial obligations may be. Best practice at this time for vendors is to hold the deposit until a date for postponement is confirmed, and then apply it to the revised date (based on the vendor’s availability). If the vendor is not available, then you can discuss the option of a full refund of the deposit if they agree. If the event is being fully cancelled, then you might be liable for forfeiting the deposit. With it being an unprecedented scenario, it’s very important to communicate with your vendors and make sure they can work with you however you may choose to move forward.
Force Majeure/Act of God clauses: A force majeure clause covers the situation where you couuld. be facing a superior force of superior strength that generates unexpected circumstances beyond any party’s reasonable control. If such an event arises, one or both parties would not be able to perform the contracted duty. At this point in time, the virus in the United States is not fully confirmed as a force majeure event, as venues are still open and conducting business legally (this could change within the coming days/weeks/months). If you were to enact this clause for any reason, it must be truly impossible for the venue or vendor to perform services for your event. You may need to consult your attorney if you want to claim a force majeure clause in any case for any of your contracts. It depends very much on your location and your circumstances. At this time it may not be the best path to consider.
Purchased prior to outbreak news: Event insurance purchased prior to the news of the outbreak could be useful for you as a client. However, it’s very important to reach out to your insurance company to understand what is covered and if COVID-19 cancellations would be covered within your scope of services. Cases may vary with vendor/venue/contract.
Are considering purchasing now: Now that COVID-19 is an existing condition, insurance companies will surely not cover any sort of loss due to cancellations or changes. It would not be beneficial for you to purchase if you are only doing so for coverage for COVID-19.
If you are hosting an international wedding in a high risk identified country, you may be able to cancel contracts, flights, and stays with no financial burdens. Reach out to your representatives within the airlines or travel industry to assist you. With your vendors, refer to your contracts and communicate with them to ensure you're on the same page with handling cancellations and payments. Be sure to have a paper trail with all communication via email.
If you are hosting an international wedding in a location with either no activity of COVID-19 or in a non-high risk place, it might still be very beneficial to start conversations on how cancellation or postponement may work. In the upcoming weeks, there’s no say as to what will happen and how other cities or countries may be affected. It’s best to have all the options on the table with a deadline of when you need to make your official decision by, so you have time to inform your guests and your vendors of any changes.
For any further information, feel free to email or DM us or schedule a concierge session with our expert planners at www.dildiya.com.