The benefits of working with a venue finding agent are many – there is the potential to save you lots of time and money, the expert knowledge of a wider field of available venues for your event, and access to special deals or new openings.
When the right venue has been found, you enter the next phase where contracts will need to be signed – and ExecSpace can help guide you through this process too. Here are some of our top tips when dealing with hotel contracts.
Remember you are contracted to deal with the hotel as a principle/primary.
Working with an agent is not simply finding a venue – it is an end-to-end process. When it comes to signing contracts the correct name must be on the contract.
The ‘principle’ in this case is NOT the agent, it is the legal entity, as they are responsible for the event, delegates etc, and ultimately the billing too.
If your agent is handling billing for you as part of your support, you can specify the disclosed agent can act on behalf of the legal entity, but their name must always be the principle.
Work out your minimum and maximum numbers.
Numbers on a contract are split into minimum and maximum.
Many venues are now requesting these with longer notice to manage their supply chain and avoid food waste. A general rule of thumb is to confirm numbers and catering choices 7-10 days prior with final numbers 2-3 days before arrival.
Not only does this help you manage your costs by avoiding unnecessary charges for no-shows, but it can also help your business run the event in line with your sustainability and CSR policies.
Know your deadline for advising the final numbers for charging.
It is important to know exactly how many people will be attending the event, but also what the deadline is for confirming those numbers. Deadlines can vary depending on the size, location and timing of an event, and are there to allow the venue plenty of time to prepare what they need.
If you’re having difficulty getting confirmation from potential attendees, build into your comms plan a message to remind delegates. By their confirming, either way, your business and chosen venue can avoid wasting food and supplies unnecessarily.
Cancellation notice – conference and bedrooms
Venues usually contract based on the anticipated value of the minimum amount of people that will show up, and this applies to both during the day and overnight accommodation
Be aware of what the cancellation notice is for the conference and bedrooms in the venue and the charges involved. What you’re looking for here is non-performance clauses – eg what is the shortfall in anticipated spend likely to be? Most hotels will have a non-performance clause in their contracts and this occurs when one party fails to meet their contractual obligations. Venues will add in additional charges to cover the potential loss of earnings if this is the case so you need to know where you stand to avoid unwanted fees.
Know the details when booking bedrooms
This is another area where numbers matter. Be clear on what you are contracted to and what you want to hold on an allocation basis.
Many hotels require a reservation of a minimum number of bedrooms, but it is more than likely a discount of anything between 15% – 40% will be offered when block-booking rooms. The general rule of thumb is that rooms should be reserved 3-8 months in advance, so it is important to find out the deadlines for room reservations and deposits required. You should also know what information the hotel needs from you regarding any guest requirements and the deadlines for these.
Ensure specific conference rooms you have site visited/booked are detailed on the contract.
Which rooms or event spaces did you see when you went to view the venue? If those are the ones you want, make sure they are specified on the contract along with an itemised breakdown of the charge (along with any additional VAT) for each room.
This avoids being hit with any additional surprise fees and ensures you don’t pay a premium for a room you no longer end up using. Remember there are some things which can potentially be removed from the contract to reduce the price for the space you want – for example, if you aren’t requiring the use of Wi-Fi, some hotels will remove the charge for this in specific rooms.
Ask about any planned maintenance, repairs and building work taking place
During the dates of your proposed event will the venue be in the same state it was when you visited? Check for any planned works, refurbishments etc to make sure they won’t disrupt your day.
Additionally, find out if there are any other events taking place at the same time and the size of those events. If necessary, request these be included in the contract or if a discount is available.
Know your deposit deadline and payment schedule.
When you agree to pay a deposit, it becomes part of your legal contract with the hotel and most hotels will require a deposit which will depend on your requirements and the numbers attending your event.
In most instances, these deposits are non-refundable.
You can request an itemised list of payments required and the deadlines. Be aware of exactly how much deposit (+VAT) is needed to be paid and when, and whether it is non-refundable should you need to cancel the event in the future.
Depending on the size of your event, some hotels may offer a payment schedule, with the final payment made up to 30 days after the event is over. Even when working with an agent, it is your responsibility to ensure payments are made in full and on time.
Look through policy documents and addendums.
An addendum is a document which can be added to a contract to make changes, and add further clarification and additional things without invalidating the original contract. Make sure you are aware of the policy documents and any addendums incorporated into the contract which are required for each event – the devil is in the detail.
Consider consecutive year deals
If you are likely to repeat an event in the same venue for say two or three years you can introduce an SLA with a caveat of four weeks to contract for the subsequent years. This means that you ‘reserve’ the same space within the contract for the first year, but have some flexibility to move to another venue should you wish to.
Venue contracts are simple enough when you know what you are doing, but they can feel overwhelming, especially if you are not used to dealing with them daily.
If you would like help or advice on any of the points we’ve raised, or anything else to do with venue event contracts, do get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.