I’m negotiating hotel contracts today, developing a relationship with a new audio visual management team and having fun with the “give and take” of the process. So, I’m taking notes along the way and sharing a few points from my experience.

  • To begin with, consider developing your own contract. Create your own hotel contract template and send it to the hotel once you receive their proposal and before signing their contract. Get an attorney to read it if you need to.
  • If the hotel doesn’t accept your contract, send them a list of “must have” items that you need included in the hotel’s contract. Much of this discussion should have already been negotiated following your request for proposal and any other earlier conversations. This really shouldn’t surprise them.
  • Maybe this should be first in my notes, but…READ THE CONTRACT! Every word. Then repeat. Pay attention to what you are reading. Figure out exactly what is happening throughout each stage of your event. What are they charging you for? An extra microphone that won’t be used in a breakout room? An additional gallon or two of low octane decaf? Wi-Fi for a cocktail mixer? Check it out. There may be hidden zingers that you’ll regret not noticing once all is said and done. And remember to always negotiate for amenities like discounts on rooms or transportation.
  •  Make sure you know what the cancellation policies are. What are the penalties? And just as important, get in writing the penalties that apply to the hotel if they cancel the event or fail to honor the terms of the contract.
  • Sell yourself and your event. Make sure the venue knows the value that your company and your event will bring to their property.
  • Make sure everyone on your production team, including outside vendors, understands and can comply with the terms of the contract.
  • Have a verbal conversation. Be sure that both you and the hotel understand the terms of the contract before signing. Don’t wait until the day of your event to ask about insurance coverage, or check-in policies.
  • And finally, hotel contracts usually have clauses to protect the hotel if you cancel your event or don’t meet your room block. Truthfully, this is quite fair. After all, the hotel may be forfeiting other business in order to accommodate your amazing event.