Let’s be honest none of us are lawyers and most of us don’t have legal departments to review all of our contracts. Contracts (aka agreements) can be daunting, confusing, and even a little scary at times. The most important thing to remember when evaluating contracts is that they are put in place to protect you and the vendor. It is a two-way street, a good contact will make both sides feel safe and there will be a clear understanding of expectations.
The second most important thing to remember when looking at contracts is that you should not be afraid to ask or in some cases to insist for specific clauses that will benefit you or your organization. This doesn’t mean that you should ask for the world, but it does say that you should ask for items that make sense for your organization and your event. If a vendor is not willing to add or amend a clause, then it is vital to have a conversation with them about why. Is it something that they feel is harmful to them as a company or is it something that they just don’t want to sign because they are just a little shady 😉 The answer to this question will inform your relationship moving forward.
If you feel that key details, expectations, waypoints, or the like are missing, ask to include them. Most vendors work off some kind of boilerplate agreement and customize them as necessary. Or they have developed one in-house over years of experience. You may be mentioning a point they had not consitered or felt the need to define. Reputable vendors are more than happy to go over their contract and made adjustments as needed.
It is also essential to do your research. Don’t be afraid to look up what specific clauses or words mean and what the actual liabilities associated with each are. This is one situation where the internet can be your best friend. Make sure that you know what you agree to and how it will affect your organization. The big items to look for are cancellation, attrition, rebooking clause, guarantee dates, food and beverage minimums, and indemnification. It is essential to know how much you will have to pay if you need to cancel your event or if you have less attendance than you originally anticipated. No one can foresee everything, but like GI Joe use to say
Clarity & Precision
Finally, when reviewing your contract make sure that everything is correct in regards to your company’s legal name, the name of the event, dates of the event, date of signing, and the person who signs the contract. Remember that the person that signs the contract may not be the person that is the event organizer. You might need to have some different people sign the contract.
Key Point- Be sure that those affected by the contract in your organization is aware of the terms before it is singed, especially if they do not sign it themselves. I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard that the CEO singed the agreement, not knowing that <insert cringe thought here> (i.e servers were not provided, you have to be out of the room by 20min after your event ends, or you pay a per minute fee, there was no a/v included).
The more information that you can give to your vendor, in the beginning, the less back and forth that you will have and the smoother the process will be.
This is just a broad overview of contracts but just remember the most important thing is not to be afraid to ask questions or for changes in a deal. If you have specific clause you have questions about it, please let us know. We are here to help you in any way we can.