When you’re planning an event, you are swimming in a sea of contracts. Some vendors that you hire present you with contracts that you have to sign. Other vendors don’t have contracts, but you wish they did. You might even be creating one yourself just to make sure you’re protected.
Whether you’re writing the contract or simply signing it, it’s important that you understand how to keep yourself safe and make sure you and your event are protected in the document. Let’s look at how you can do that!
How to Write an Effective Contract
Contracts are enforceable by law and will protect the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved. Because of that, creating an effective contract that protects you and your meeting can seem like an insurmountable task. You have to think of so many what-ifs that your head spins.
To help make it easier, you can follow these tips:
- Keep it Short
The essential information that you need to include is who the parties involved are, what they are agreeing to do, dates and times that need to be met, why each party is signing, how the services are expected to be rendered, when money is due, and how much money will change hands.
- Be Ready for Changes
The goals and objectives of your event are likely to change after you get started organizing it. Make sure your contract accounts for changes happening. This could include adding clauses dealing with how changes will be handled, that they will still be bound by the terms of the original contract, etc.
- Be Specific
Where possible, use room names and diagrams provided by the venue with rooms identified.
- Don’t’ use a Contract and an “Addendum”
Negotiate on a complete contract with the terms from each part’s documents.
- Never Make Changes by Writing by Hand
Changes by hand are unprofessional and can be difficult to enforce. Take the time to retype the changes and keep the document clear.
- Keep it Simple
Make sure the language is simple and easily understood by someone not involved in the negotiations. If you use industry terminology, consider including explanations.
- Use Checklists or Bulleted Lists
This can help a lot with things like making sure force majeure clauses, attrition language, and nonperformance statements are clear.
- Be Fair & Balanced
Try to have a good balance between the vendor and you. Work to find mutually acceptable language.
- Consider the Technology Involved
Planners should consult their IT team to determine technology needed. This includes things like making sure you have WiFi and that it’s at an acceptable speed for your audience.
- Preserve Your Right to Choose A/V Vendors
Clauses dealing with A/V companies and other suppliers are important. Your equipment is often a focal point for your event, so you need the freedom to utilize the companies that best suit your needs instead of one more interested in their relationship with the venue. This is an area where you are best served by getting bids from outside A/V vendors when prices may also be more reasonable.
- Don’t accept the standard ADA language of hotel proposals.
Take the time to tailor the contract to the unique needs of your group.
- Include a Change of Ownership or Management Clause
Life happens. When ownership or management changes during the course of your contract, it can make your arrangement difficult and maybe even mean you don’t get the resources previously agreed on. So make sure you reserve the right to cancel the contract without financial obligation if the vendor’s changes owners, management, or flags.
How to Make Sure You’re Protected When You Sign
As you’re organizing your event, you will feel buried in legal documents. You’ll be signing agreements with venues, A/V providers, rental companies, food providers, and so much more.
It can be tempting to sign quickly without reading and move on. However, if something goes wrong, you could find yourself out of a lot of money and time because you signed away your rights in this agreement.
So take a few minutes and check your contract for these main things and make sure you understand and agree with each one:
- What do you owe? When is it due?
Make sure you understand what your financial obligations will be. What will you be paying, and when are those payments due.
- How do you get out if you’re unhappy?
Things happen, and if you need to leave the agreement, how do you do it? Will you have to pay anything, or forfeit a deposit, and how much notice do you need to provide for intent to cancel?
- Are you getting what you asked for?
One of the most common reasons for needing to rely on a contract for restitution is when the vendor doesn’t deliver on their promise. Make sure it outlines exactly what they are agreeing to provide and as detailed as possible. If you need specific flowers, or a specific number of servings, then make sure it’s outlined.
- Do the dates line up?
Some events will have things that need done in stages. Make sure the dates you need are detailed in the contract so you can keep things on track.
- What constitutes a breach?
In some cases, the vendor can take your money and not deliver the services because you breached the agreement. Make sure you understand your obligations and what would constitute a breach that can give them an out to take your money and run.
Get the Equipment You Need
Don’t forget to contact us early in your planning process to get the highest-quality A/V equipment and ask about having our experienced technicians deliver, setup, operate, and handle everything for you so your event goes smooth and you stay stress-free. Gault & Associates, Inc. is your best insurance policy for trouble-free A/V.