Tips to Manage Risk and Liability When Liquor Is Served

This is a reprint of some of our favorite tips to share during the holiday season. Enjoy and stay safe!

Lawyers will tell you whether you’re giving alcohol away or selling it at an event, anyone who has control over the facility or the event is typically liable if an intoxicated person causes bodily injury or property damage as a result of the liquor served at that event.

The good news is, provided the meeting planner isn’t pouring the drinks, they normally would not be at much risk of being held personally liable. When an employee is acting in the scope of their employment, liability usually rests with the employer, not the individual.

That good news, however, does not typically extend to independent meeting planners or third-party meeting planners who are independent contractors and not employees. In these instances, the meeting planner could be held liable along with the company, depending on the circumstances.

“The only way to eliminate liquor liability is to eliminate alcohol from your event,” says Marilyn Hauck, founder and president of The Complete Conference and a 20-year veteran in the meetings industry who plans, markets, and manages meetings and events of all sizes. “A non-alcohol event is often not an option, so the next best way to reduce your liability is to create an environment that discourages overdrinking.”

Hauck suggests these steps to take to keep your attendees from overindulging and to reduce liquor liability:

Give written instructions to bartenders not to serve persons who are either underage or noticeably intoxicated.

Establish a monitoring system to ensure that minors and intoxicated persons are not served alcohol.

• Designate someone from the planning team to refrain from drinking during the function to monitor the bartenders.

Avoid self-service bars and kegs of beer.

• Control the length of the cocktail reception and don’t announce last call.

• Always provide food and non-alcoholic beverages where alcohol is served.

Arrange transportation – or a place to stay – in advance.

Buy liquor liability insurance if your organization is the server or seller.

• Make sure the group has a standard operating procedure for handling attendees who have had too much to drink.

Since its inception in 1979, the mission of The Complete Conference, Inc., has been to develop and implement high quality cost-effective meetings with professionalism, integrity, customer satisfaction and dependability. The company can be reached at 916-922-7032 or info@completeconference.com.

What are some of your steadfast rules for such events? Maybe we will add your tips to the list!

Berlin Convention Office – We Know all About Arranging Meetings

berlin logoBerlin Convention Office – We know all about arranging meetings
The visitBerlin Berlin Convention Office (BCO) is the first go-to agency for event planners. The BCO offers comprehensive support for the organisation of conventions, meetings and incberlin photoentives in Berlin.Customers benefit from the experienced team, a vast network of contacts and the free-of-charge agency and reservation services for hotel allocations.

Learn more about Berlin.

Open for Business Today. Reimagined for Tomorrow.

Meeting planners are no strangers to the phenomenal sun, surf, and fine dining Miami Beach has to offer. An international, first-class destination, Miami Beach hosts world-renowned festivals such as Art Basel and Maison & Objet. What some might not know is that Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC) is reinventing itself right now.

The $500 Million Facelift.

Through municipal bonds, Miami Beach Convention Center is amidst a magnificent $592 million transformation. Reimagined as a state-of-the-art LEED-certified facility, it is accommodating and attracting new, international, and national events and conventions.

MBCC is open for business and will remain so during most of the process. Renovations will complete in 2018 and future bookings are filling quickly. Last year alone, more than 857,000 delegates met in Greater Miami and the Beaches, and as Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine says, the new facility will be a “center for creative collaboration.” Miami Beach is not only on a path keeping up with demands of a competitive national and international convention community – its new outdoor public spaces will improve walkability for everyone, connecting MBCC and the city’s adjacent historic cultural district and resorts.

-500,000 Square Feet of Exhibition Space
-190,000 Square Feet of Meeting Space
-A New 60,000 Square foot Grand Ballroom

Learn more about the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Meeting Planning Lessons from The Book of Mormon

What meeting planning lessons can we glean from the popular Tony-award-winning Broadway musical, The Book of Mormon?

Plenty, as it turns out.

At a learning lab at the ASAE 2016 Annual Meeting entitled, “What the Musical The Book of Mormon Taught Me About Association Management,“ seven association professionals used The Book of Mormon as a metaphor to offer association management lessons about leadership, membership recruitment, branding, social media, humor, diversity, and yes, meeting planning.

The session was created and moderated by Sheri Singer, president of Singer Communications, and drew about 500 attendees.

Tom Quash, CAE, Vice President, Marketing, Communications & Publications at the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), encouraged session attendees to script an inspirational story at their conferences, much as the one of the lead characters in The Book of Mormon did as he worked to convert skeptical villagers in Uganda to the Mormon faith.

“At AWHONN, we celebrate the daily work of our nurses and underscore Connection — a core belief that we know our members value,” Quash explained. “We weave the connection messaging into social media, marketing, and speeches throughout the convention. You know the old adage about the elevator pitch: you must simply state your story and build your script around it.”

Cast of Characters

Next, consider your cast of characters.

“Who is responsible for telling your story at your convention?,” Quash asked. “The CEO? The Chair? Both? You can also have dual roles but they should be positioned purposefully and intentionally.”

He cautioned executives to not try to make a storyteller funny if that doesn’t mesh with their mission or style, and instead leverage the talents of each individual to create a great cast.

“Who can speak with authority when necessary?” he asked. “Who can add levity? Which speakers will best support the story? Does your cast represent a fair balance of your membership or constituents? How many industry partners should be represented? Have you considered diversity, in all its forms?”

Quash noted that at the end of a great play, it’s the cast that receives the hearty applause and the standing ovations.

“For example, think about your general session,” Quash suggested. “When that is over, you want your attendees to be touched or re-energized by what they have heard.”

Creating the Stage

“Does the décor on your main stage reflect your brand and your story?,” Quash asked. “Don’t overlook the opportunity to leverage staging, music and lighting to help create a theatrical experience. If you can, consider using what Broadway plays use all the time the ‘Wow’ factor. Think about the chandelier crashing in Phantom of the Opera–that’s a wow factor.

“You may not have a Broadway budget, but you can still make it theatrical. One year, we had a rock-and-roll pit band during the General Session instead of piped-in music. Another year, our Board Chair took the stage from the audience, rather than backstage, followed by dozens of student members to tell that year’s story of our commitment to the next generation,” Quash explained.

According to Quash, like it or not, your association is competing for attention with free and open access to online content, web-based communities, apps, streaming, Netflix, and even Pokemon Go.

“Your story and your stage cannot come across as stale or disconnected with the expectations or even demands of your members,” Quash said. “Your venue, the city, your networking events, your tradeshow, and more are all ‘stages’ for you to support the experience.”

Practice Makes Perfect

Quash is an advocate of dress rehearsals to make sure “the show” flows without a hitch.

“Rehearsals help determine if the timing is right,” he explained. “Are all the cues in place? Where will your VIPs sit? Are your presenters comfortable with their delivery?”

Quash says it’s also important to consider “what if?” scenarios and have a plan to act accordingly.

“What if a speaker doesn’t show up? What’s the plan to communicate this? What if the fire marshal is onsite and shuts down a room due to overcrowding? What if there’s a weather event that threatens the safety of your attendees?” he asked.

While Quash notes that you can’t plan for every conceivable scenario, you can be prepared for at least some unexpected developments.

Selling Your Show

You can’t start too early when it comes to selling your next conference, Quash declared.

“The selling starts at least a year in advance, at your current convention,” he believes. “While attendees are in the midst of a great experience, you want them to get excited for the following year. Talk up next year, as ASAE routinely does.”

Quash says at AWHONN they test story messages to determine what is resonating with their key audiences. They also explore new marketing platforms.

“Direct mail, email and advertising may be effective, but have you leveraged content marketing?” Quash queries. “Do you have a digital marketing strategy? Can you use your chapter or sections to act as champions? Are there bloggers that can help support the conference promotion? Don’t underestimate their reach and impact.”

Be sure that you provide your members, leaders and other stakeholders with the right tools to help you sell the show, Quash suggested.

“With a compelling story, great cast, inviting staging, detailed rehearsals and smart selling, you’ll create your very ownBook of Mormon – a theatrical, memorable experience for your members,” said Quash.

Al Rickard, CAE, is President of Association Vision, a Washington, DC-area communications company, and serves as Director of Communications for ConventionPlanit.com.

SPINCon – An Educational and Entertaining Conference

Leave it to SPIN (Senior Planner Industry Network) to design a conference that both educates and entertains its members!

From the entirely novel concept of a “Sponsor Selfie Trade Show” to Beach Blanket Bingo as an after reception activity, SPINCon 2016, held Nov.13-15 in Fort Lauderdale, had  its attendees actively engaged.

ConventionPlanit.com is proud to be a Strategic Partner of this innovative organization, and  thus we found Maureen Pickell and Sandra Reed of CP.com rounding out the exclusive group of suppliers participating in the event.

Not surprising was the large number of CP.com members including the Newport Beach, Anchorage, Bellevue, Little Rock, Branson, Providence Warwick, Grand Rapids and Wisconsin Dells CVB’s who support the organization.

Maureen Pickell, CTC, receiving the royal treatment at SPINCon

Maureen Pickell, CTC, receiving the royal treatment at SPINCon

And SPIN really treats their sponsors like royalty as you can see by the tiara worn by Maureen as she helps to organize the Networking CSR Activity!

Education partnered with wellness to play key roles in the program.

Tracts were designated by Brain, Body, Being and Business Sessions with topics ranging from” Surviving Life” and “Entrepreneur Forum” to “RFP is Not a Dirty Word” and “No Diet Equals Freedom!.”

Breaks offered Cucumber and Carrots Edamame Humus Shooters and meeting rooms provided roomy couches as well as high top tables for comfortable learning.

Ft. Lauderdale (Meet Sunny) CVB and the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa did a great job of welcoming those from northern climes with a spectacular sunrise Monday morning serving as the backdrop for an Oceanside breakfast.

Attendees enjoy an ocean side breakfast

Attendees enjoy an ocean side breakfast

200 attendees were greeted by the SPIN logo highlighted in the sand and waves lapping on the beach as they started the day.

The SPIN Logo in the sand

The SPIN Logo made its mark on Fort Lauderdale!

As a first timer to this conference, your intrepid blogger is anxious to repeat the experience and looks forward to SPINCon 2017!!

Hospitality Industry Career Opportunities

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to work for your favorite search directory, now is your chance! conventionplanit job openings

ConventionPlanit.com has openings for the following positions:

Regional Director of Sales

    Sell online marketing solutions to hotels, resorts, CVBs, and other service providers. Position entails phone sales for website listings, advertising and e-marketing features. Additional training will be provided. A minimum of five years of sales experience as well as basic computer skills are required. To apply, or for additional information, please send cover letter and resume to

info@conventionplanit.com.

Marketing Manager

    Working from home as an independent contractor, the Marketing Manager arranges sales appointments with designated hospitality suppliers, i.e., hotel sales directors, VP of management companies, CVB marketing directors, for assigned ConventionPlanit.com sales directors to demo and close the sale. This individual may flexibly set their own hours and focus on the best time to reach their clients, given the various time zones. Clients are retrieved from our CMS database as well as specific lists in which special pricing was coordinated. Additional training will be provided. To apply, or for additional information, please send cover letter and resume to

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Super Bowl-Caliber Meetings

visit jacksonvilleEven when the Jaguars aren’t playing football, you can still have a ball with colleagues and clients at EverBank Field by holding a Super Bowl-caliber meeting or event at the stadium.

Because at EverBank Field, you can pretty much rent everything from the players’ locker room to the entire playing field for gatherings small and intimate or large and grand.

Speaking of grand, did you know that EverBank Field is home to the world’s largest scoreboard? That’s right, the ginormous video board sits high above brand new cabanas and swimming pools as part of a $63 million renovation, and is 60 feet high, 362 feet long, and contains 35.5 million LED bulbs. Now imagine giving a presentation or pitching your clients using that puppy.

Game over.

You can even arrange for appearances by Jaxson de Ville, the Jaguars’ mascot, and the ROAR, the Jaguars’ cheerleaders. Plus, you can sample catered food prepared by Levy Restaurants. So when the Jags aren’t putting in work on the field, the turf is all yours—all 160,000 square feet of it. Endzone to endzone, here’s a breakdown of what EverBank Field has to offer local businesses on the field and off.

Learn more about Visit Jacksonville.

Five Reasons to Use RFP Organization

rfp organizationCollecting RFP responses can be a hassle, but it does not have to be.

Here are five reasons you should give ConventionPlanit.com’s RFP Organization a try:

1. RFP responses are organized on a comparison chart for you
2. Receive quotes fast and by your deadline
3. No training or RFP templates – submit your RFP in your own format
4. Receive personalized consultation & expertise
5. Complimentary service and commitment free

To start using RFP Organization, email your RFP to info@conventionplanit.com.