Should You Cancel That Meeting? How to Make the Call

Consider these questions when controversial laws raise concerns about destination decisions.

ASAE Decision Tool Site-Selection Discriminatory Laws
Photo Credit: crystaleyestudio for Adobe Stock

Meetings industry associations have been collaborating to address abortion-related legislation and its impact on site-selection decisions. Their collective message: Controversial topics should not be ignored, nor should they necessarily disqualify a destination from consideration. The following guidance is excerpted from a decision tool developed by the American Society of Association Executives for internal use and shared as a general framework for other organizations to consider. (See related article, "How the Events Industry is Responding to State Abortion Bans.")


Gather Information Before Acting

  • How is the local destination management organization or the city itself addressing discriminatory laws or regulations in their area?
  • Where do local elected officials stand on the legislation/policy?
  • Does the local jurisdiction have an anti-discrimination policy?
  • Where do the local and state tourism/hospitality associations stand on the legislation/policy?
  • How can the association work with the DMO and local association members to demonstrate to legislators the broad negative results of discriminatory laws and regulations?

Review Legal Obligations

  • Does the association have the option to cancel without penalty? If not, what are the financial, political and cultural consequences of canceling?
  • Is the hotel venue part of a national chain with options for moving the event to a different venue?
  • What can be done to address the issue of concern if the association holds its meeting or event in the destination as planned?

Weigh the Impact of Canceling

  • Who would be affected by a decision to cancel? Consider members, attendees, suppliers, the association itself, hospitality workers, etc.
  • Weigh financial considerations, the association’s values, and the impact on those affected by the decision to cancel or go forward.  
  • How does the decision to stay or cancel align with the association’s stated values, code of ethics and/or advocacy positions?
  • Will either decision undermine or advance the association’s reputation?

Plan a Course of Action

  • If the event is not canceled or moved, consider communicating with members in advance to explain the issue and the association’s decision to stay.
  • If the issue poses safety concerns for some, explain what the association will do to ensure their safety once on-site.
  • Host an activity, charitable fundraiser or service project in the community that supports the association’s stand on the issue.
  • Meet with local legislators to discuss how local laws negatively affect association members, their own constituents and the destination itself.