If there is one thing we can predict about this pandemic, it’s that it’s unpredictable. And if you’ve recently begun the process of sourcing or contracting an event location, you know there are numerous new clauses, regulations, and rules to consider.
By now, both event planners and their vendor partners should understand the importance of contract flexibility. The issue, however, is that both sides are looking to protect their best interests. This means it’s time to brush up on your contract negotiation skills. As summarized by Cvent: “It’s no longer just about dates, rates, and space. Tomorrow’s meetings and events business is also about safety, efficiency, and transparency.” Here are some key considerations to keep in mind as you source venues and negotiate contracts during the Covid era.
Location, Location, Location
Beyond sunny weather and convenient travel proximity, event location is more important than ever when understanding and negotiating contracts.
At this point in the pandemic, safety guidelines are often managed at the most local levels of government. This means that you need to look deeper than country/state mandates. For example, county health departments within larger cities may have their own unique pandemic protocols. Hotels in one county may require vaccine verifications and masking, while venues in another county do not. Individual venues also may dictate their own unique pandemic rules, resulting in additional precautions that may not align with your event goals.
Take time to understand the pandemic regulations for your exact location, as well as surrounding locations such as airports, public transportation, restaurants/bars, etc. Make sure that local protocols align with the standards and expectations you’ve established with your event attendees, including guests, speakers, and outside vendors. Request health and safety protocol documents for both the venue and the local government. If the local protocols do not align with your event needs/goals, ask for modifications to your designated event space, or consider moving to a new location.
The Fine Print
When it’s time to discuss contract details, the key to successful negotiations is preparation. Bring a detailed list of questions, checklists, and even a contingency wish list. Venues may give on one issue to get something on another. Prioritize your asks and know where you can (and cannot) haggle. Also consider the fine print. Carefully review and understand detailed contract verbiage, and ask for additional language as needed to clarify detailed scenario and contingency factors.
Seek Professional Help
The continuation of the pandemic, combined with staffing shortages and supply chain disruptions, can have domino impacts that catch even the most experienced event professionals by surprise. Now may be a good time to employ a third-party contract negotiator, such as Unbridled, to negotiate the more complex scenarios/contingencies of pandemic-era contracts. As an extension of your planning team, event planning firms can leverage their broad-based experience and rolodex to help you navigate this rapidly evolving territory.
Despite your event location, pandemic preparedness and related contract contingencies are the new normal of site selection considerations. That’s one prediction you can count on. For more information or advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team here at Unbridled.