It’s money that matters

Americas Features
It’s money that matters

A new company aims to protect client deposits and ensure timely payment to supplier-partners.

Meetings industry veteran Grant Snider has launched a new company to protect client deposits and ensure timely payment to supplier-partners.

A spokeswoman for Meeting Escrow explained that it is a global, multi-currency deposit protection solution.

She said: “In terms of capacity, we can assist clients from most parts of the globe holding events most anywhere else in world.

“So far, North American clients holding meetings, events, congresses or incentives in non-North American destinations has been seen as a great fit and the same is true for European and Asian organisations doing business in North America. These are just a few examples. In general, the further in advance of the event dates and the further afield the location of the event, the greater the perceived benefits of Meeting Escrow.

“That being said, any company can be vulnerable to cash flow issues, even those close to home. Who would have suspected that Congrex or GEP would collapse?

“The ability to lock deposit funds in segregated escrow accounts in USD, Euros, CAD or one of 17 other currencies eliminates exposure to exchange rate fluctuations and therefore makes the solution particularly attractive to cross-border events.”

Grant Snider told CMW: “As I’ve presented to potential clients over the past six months, numerous examples have been shared with me by planners whose companies have lost large amounts of deposit money due to bankruptcy, fraud, natural disasters and other catastrophic events. I realised that the problem is much larger than I originally thought. My previous company was a victim as well – our registration supplier was collecting participant sign-up funds on behalf of our clients and the money didn’t even come into our own accounts. By the time we realised the depth of the problem, almost CAD$400,000 of our clients’ money and collectively with the other plaintiffs in the case, close to $2 million disappeared. My partners and I wrote cheques to our clients to make them whole and cover the loss. Ouch!”

Des MacLaughlin at the Grass Roots agency in the UK, said: “I can certainly see Meetings Escrow appealing to smaller agents who might not have the necessary disciplines in place such as separate client bank accounts. Any professional agent should have these, but unfortunately it’s not uncommon to hear of agents who have gone belly up taking their client’s money with them.

“Payment terms are also becoming an increasing issue for agents, with some clients demanding 90 days to make any payment at all – forcing agencies to bear the cost of the whole event, which is putting real (and unnecessary) financial pressure on agents. Whether using Meetings Escrow would lead to a change in payment terms is I think questionable though as we are talking about corporates with deliberate payment and supplier relationship system that work only according to their own rules.

“Meetings Escrow’s greatest appeal probably lies with a client when using an agent who they may have financial concerns with. That however begs the question: why they are using the agent in the first place?”

But Katherine Wright, president of Toronto-based meeting planning company, The Wright Solution, said: “Meeting Escrow finally provides the solution planners have been looking for: how to give our suppliers commitment without jeopardizing the often large deposits we pay months in advance to book future programs. I can’t think of a better person in this industry to be spearheading such a venture – Grant Snider embodies trust, confidence and fairness in all of his business dealings and will help streamline the whole process so we can focus on what we do best: planning and executing meetings and events.”