Martin Cohn

Article Summary:

Tips for negotiating a special event contract that keeps you covered.

Negotiating a Special Event Contract

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.

Martin Cohn has over 30 years of experience in all facets of marketing communications. With an extensive background in public and community relations, Martin has developed successful public relations and marketing communications programs for many established firms, and has also helped launch a nationally based coalition of environmental companies. Martin has a substantial background in politics, serving as spokesperson for a lieutenant governor's race, two congressional races, a presidential campaign, and a mayoral race. For more information, visit

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