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Navigating the Double-Edged-Sword: Strikes at your Venue and Crossing the Picket Line

In the oftentimes glamorous world of events, surprises often lurk around every corner. While meticulous preparation is the name of the game, there's a curveball event professionals must always be prepared for - a strike in the midst of your program.

Currently, Las Vegas finds itself grappling with such a situation, owing to a surge in hotel costs and a decline in available jobs in recent years within the major hotel and casino chains.

Currently in Vegas, the Culinary Union workers have not had a contract since September 15 giving them a legal right to strike and have been seeking to negotiate with MGM Resorts, Caesars Palace, and Wynn Resorts and will continue to rally until a new contract is agreed upon.

Just last week on October 25, there were over a thousand people rallying in the streets causing major road blockage and leading to the arrest/citation of 60 people, but that hasn’t dissuaded the strikers. And as of today, the negotiations are still continuing without a resolution in sight.

There hasn’t been a strike yet, however, it is inching much closer to a November timeframe just in time for the much anticipated Formula 1 (F1) set to take the strip, along with a record number of crowds. Not to mention, several additional large conferences taking place this fall.

This challenging scenario has placed event professionals in a precarious position, necessitating a careful examination of how to strike the delicate balance between preserving a perfectly planned event and respecting the concerns of the striking workers – in one of the largest convention cities in the US.

In light of this, we'll delve into the nuanced dilemma of whether or not to cross the picket line, all while appreciating the valid concerns of striking workers to maintain a balanced perspective.

Understanding the "Who, What, and Why":

Before we dive into the challenge of crossing a picket line during an event, it's crucial to grasp the context. Strikes don't happen for no reason.

They're the result of workers feeling their rights, wages, or working conditions have been neglected. It's essential to acknowledge the legitimacy of their concerns and the sacrifices they're making to be heard.

Understanding the Event Prof's Dilemma:

As an event professional, you've invested months, or even years, in careful planning of every detail, but now you're faced with a strike at the venue in your host city. It's a double-edged sword, to say the least.

Here are some key points to consider when facing this difficult decision:

1. Understand what is happening externally and internally at the venue. Follow governmental regulations, internal guidelines, and monitor the situation constantly.

2. Partner with the venue on their plans for the possible strike and review the venue contract in detail. Assess if you have “striking workers or labor unrest” covered for a potential cancellation, if needed.

Generally this can be a included under the Force Majeure clause (and if NOT, be sure to consult with us on how you should be implementing risk mitigation such as a labor strike into your next contract).

Your venue is in a similar predicament and it’s likely they too want a positive outcome, so partnership is paramount here for a good result.

3. Create a risk assessment to rate events on a variety of conditions such as attendee impact, business impact, and internal impact to assess if you need to implement a Plan B - for any, or all of your planned events.

4. Review your event playbook with relevant stakeholders and make a decision about each event. Small events may be easy to shift to virtual. Large events may require a more strategic approach and an altered agenda, along with a modified budget - and then some.

5. Get your team up to speed on various scenarios that may need to play out and get roles and responsibilities outlined in advance. This doesn’t just mean the internal planning team, but your trusted event production partners that will help make smart decisions and pivot quickly, as needed.

6. Stay agile and trust your plan. An ongoing crisis requires creativity, flexibility and being able to make quick decisions at any moment. A well thought out approach is critical to navigating the situation with clarity and grace.

As for your event in the midst of a strike, it can sometimes feel like juggling flaming torches while riding a unicycle. Whether you opt to face the picket line head-on or consider alternative routes, always keep an eye on the long-term impact of your attendees and your brand top of mind.

After all, in the ever-changing world of events, the goal is to keep the show rolling smoothly for everyone involved - including yourselves! But safety and security are critical at all times.

Tell us, what would you do if you were faced with this challenge? We’d love to hear your thoughts.


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