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Double booked at Randwick

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By Julius Grafton.

Starting a little later than previously, on Tuesday 20th February at Brisbane, ENTECH then rolls direct to Melbourne. Sydney follows, as the trucks backtrack, no thanks to management at Sydney’s Randwick Racecourse who announced the originally booked (and deposited) date was no longer available due to a larger event taking the space.

The date at Randwick was changed after it became possible to change the date in Melbourne. This preserved the dates for the roadshow, but changed the schedule.

The Australian Turf Club finally apologized for double booking their venue, but only after an acrimonious meeting at which Events manager Jimmy Busteed told the organisers (us) that they could take what was on the table, or walk away. “My job is to make commercial decisions about placing the largest event in the venue”, he said.

Busteed had facilitated a change of date, and then emailed a ‘sign it or lose it’ email, giving CX 48 hours to execute a new contract. Over the weekend. This broke with previous practice where they allow ten days from contract issue. The ‘take it or leave it’ demand was also at odds with the wording on the contract offer, which stated it should be returned within ten days.

A series of emails from us was then ignored.

Conversely, the Melbourne venue Crown Conferences were only too happy to change the original contract with a simple cover note. Rather than issue an entire new contract, as Randwick were insisting upon, despite their mistake.

Compensation amounting to just 8% of the venue hire was extended, which falls far short of the extra costs associated with more trucking, changed flights, hotels and other costs associated with re-planning a tour.

The complications with rescheduling in this way include adding three truck drivers to the Brisbane to Melbourne leg, to ensure sufficient recovery time if something goes wrong. In itself, that requires the trucks route Brisbane – Sydney, for the driver changeover, rather than the shorter route inland. Then the trucks reverse direction back to Sydney for the Randwick date. Then the run to Adelaide is longer, rather than the originally planned Melbourne to Adelaide leg.

Protests to senior management and directors on the board fell on death ears. A letter backing Busteed arrived, containing the belated words of apology. Industry sources say that the business of a Turf Club is not events – the events facility is rented as an adjunct to their racing activities.

The author does ponder how difficult is could be booking some venues and making sure they are not double booked. We wonder what would happen if a high society wedding was flipped off in this manner?

Another abnormality exposed by this debacle is the nature of the event contract used by ATC for Randwick. It is ‘self executing’, where once signed by the hirer, the hirer then ‘authorises’ the venue (ATC) to execute on its behalf. Normally a contract is ‘offered’, then signed by the hirer (us) and then signed by the venue with a signed copy returned.

In this case, Randwick deny receiving a signed contract from us. We have one. They say they don’t have it. But they sure did have our deposit, and they sure were emailing us about our forthcoming ENTECH – until they decided to make the venue un-available. CX are not suggesting anything untoward, rather just that there is a system in place which disadvantages a hirer.

AJC made no comment on that.

Despite this annoyance, ENTECH is fully allocated and larger than ever before. Three semis will transport the roadshow, which also has an audio demo and a lighting demo. This year the Happy Hour is sponsored by Chameleon Touring.

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