The Delicate Details of Managing Contracts

“The key is to ensure all terms and charges are in writing and crystal clear before the work starts”

When it comes to event planning, the Devil is truly in the details!

Negotiating contracts may not be as fun as planning menus and creating signature cocktails, but getting contracts buttoned up with event vendors is a critical part of event planning.

I pride myself on always making this process smooth and better for my client’s bottom line.

Most importantly, get out the magnifying glass and scrutinize every word in the fine print. If necessary, get help from a contract specialist, perhaps your CFO or legal department. As an events manager, I pride myself on dissecting the contract for clients, working out all the details and getting the best possible deals. I’m always happy to have the client also go through the contracts. Two sets of eyes are always better than one!

Make sure you know the deadlines for deposits and balances; late fees can really mess with your budget. Know the cancellation policy, dates, and charges even if your client swears the event dates are set in stone.

It’s one thing to read the contract, it’s another to negotiate the terms. I’ve seen event planners leave value on the table by not asking for things to be included. Don’t hesitate to ask! If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

Some things to consider asking your venue for:

  • Reduced accommodation rates: If your attendees are staying at the hotel where the conference is held, you should be able to get a good rate on the rooms. Ask for the rate to include a continental breakfast.
  • Flexible beverage arrangements: If you’re holding a cocktail reception, ask the venue if they offer an open bar rate. Open bar charges are a set fee per person offering no limit on drinks for a certain time and will save you money over per-drink charges.
  • Perks for your event staff: Ask for further reduced rates for the events team. If the venue charges for parking, ask for a parking pass for event staff. Any other perks you can think of for your event team will be worth it. You know how hard they will be working.

The key is to ensure all terms and charges are in writing and crystal clear before the work starts. This true with partners you worked with for ages or a new vendor. Don’t let your buddy status mislead you. As movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn said, “A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.”

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