Negotiating a Special Event Contract
by Martin Cohn

You can no longer rely on a handshake to seal your agreement with a venue for your special event.

According to Exhibitor Magazine, the best way to negotiate a good hospitality deal is to sit down with a facility representative and discuss your options. You should come prepared with the following information:

· Budget. Know the limit of what you can spend.
· Agenda. Know what you want from the facility.
· History. Know what happened at your last event.
· Dates. Flexibility can lower your costs.

A contract with a special event venue should minimimally have the following nine components:

1. ADA requirements.

2. Cancellation clause. If you have to cancel, avoid a 100% liability. Facilities should agree to pursue reselling space,

3. Attrition clause. Again you can't book all the sleeping rooms to which you've agreed, insist that the hotel actively pursues reselling the space.

4. Mitigation clause. Methods for reducing losses on either side in the event of a dispute should be listed.

5. Dispute resolution mechanism. If the contract is broken or breached, look to resolve disputes without formal court proceedings.

6. Liquor liability. Know the policy and ensure that the staff is trained.

7. Condition of premises. Make sure the facility will be in workable conditions (i.e. not under renovation).

8. Legal fees. State that you will cover your legal fees but not those of the facility.

9. Hold harmless clause. If an accident happens and it's the venue's fault, you should not be held liable.

Regardless of the size of your event, proper negotiation and written contracts can save you money.