Clearly, the world of events has changed. Planners need to be  more savvy when initiating contract discussions with venues. Successfully navigating the legal realms of contracts is a must to protect your clients. Here are some insights gained from the past year:  

  1. Contracts 101– Make sure that the event purpose is clearly articulated in the venue contract. For example, if your event is an international symposium, outline the various countries represented and provide estimates on the expected #s per country. If there are travel bans from any of these countries or the delegates have access issues with being vaccinated, you can cite frustration of purpose as a legitimate way of invoking force majeure.

Rationale: The purpose of the event is to gather delegates from various countries to share insights. If these delegates cannot attend, this negates the event purpose.

  1. Deposit Policy: As these are unusual times, ensure you have an understanding with the venue, that you cannot commit to high deposits. Negotiate the lowest initial deposit amount with them; my experience has been that hotels are willing to partner more than ever with planners.
  2. Rebooking: Certainly planners spent lots of time in 2020 undoing their event plans and having to negotiate alternate event dates with venues. This can be tricky. No one can predict when live events will be “de rigeur”, so it becomes an exercise of trying to crystal ball an ideal alternate timeframe to host the event. Work with your venue to ascertain optimal dates for your event and ensure that they are ready to safely host it. Don’t hesitate to ask them about their safety and hygiene policies. For several of my clients who are in the health care arena and working front-line with vulnerable populations, their health and safety concerns may be higher than other clients. Hence their questions will be geared towards when the hotel can assure them that their employees have been vaccinated since we know that temperature checks are not the gold standard of being COVID negative.

Lastly, do not put off discussions with your venue. Yes these are difficult conversations, but they need to be held. Don’t forget that other clients are rebooking, so you want to ensure that the venue can accommodate your alternate plans.

More than ever, honest in depth discussions with your venue are paramount to furthering the partnership. Your event venue wants the event to be successful and they are equally committed to ensure that the event is held in a safe manner as they need to protect their employees’ safety as much as you need to protect your delegates’ safety and well-being.

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