When an event host chooses a venue at which to hold their event, a number of considerations have been factored into the decision (see my earlier post on this topic here). Two of those key considerations include: the published and actual quality of the venue’s physical surroundings; and the venue’s published and actual standards of services or performance.
If an event host is prepared to sign a venue contract well in advance of their event dates, it benefits and protects the event host to ensure that details such as venue quality standards and venue performance standards are identified, clearly articulated and agreed upon in the venue contract. Having these standards and expectations explicitly outlined in the venue contract helps an event host create a balanced contract.
So, how does an event host create a balanced contract specifically around quality standards and performance standards? By considering rights and remedies!
Event host’s rights
Rights are the contractual elements that one side expects to receive from the other side, based on the language in the contract. An event host is committing to do business with a venue based on its ability to provide a suitable physical environment and its ability to deliver on performance standards. Therefore, identifying and clearly articulating the event host’s rights, in terms of quality standards and performance standards, in the venue contract protects the event host when measuring the venue’s fulfillment of their contractual obligations. After all, it is very difficult to prove, defend and/or leverage undocumented agreements or expectations!
Event hosts should consider the following when negotiating rights specifically addressing quality standards and performance standards into the venue contract:
- All facilities and features of the venue are to be maintained or improved from contract signing to event dates. Features of the venue could include guestrooms, meeting spaces, spa, restaurants, golf courses etc. A venue’s everyday wear and tear are to be expected, however significant differences should not be tolerated.
- All facilities are to be open and available at the time of the event
- At the time of the event – the venue is to have maintained or improved upon published industry ratings (such as Forbes, Mobil or AAA)
Tactical Hint: before signing the venue contract, consider taking photos of venue features that are critical to the success of your event!
- Document staffing requirements such as staff to guest ratios for food and beverage functions, or front desk staff at peak times
- Consider punctuality of food and beverage functions (ie., venue standard for food and beverage functions is ready 15 minutes prior to published event time on Banquet Event Order)
- Consider timeliness, cleanliness and accuracy of meeting space set-ups according to Banquet Event Orders
And whenever you have rights, there must be remedies.
Remedies are the means of fixing, mitigating or compensating the wronged party should their rights not be delivered as promised. In terms of quality standards, the venue’s physical environment and/or features may have materially deteriorated or not be available. In terms of performance standards, the venue is/was unable to deliver according to published, industry and/or agreed upon standards. Discussing and carefully documenting the venue’s obligations to the event host should there be issues with quality and/or performance standards helps to protect the event host.
The remedies that might be available to the group to negotiate into the contract include:
1) reduction of $ or % off the Master Account
2) ability to cancel the contract in whole or in part
3) reduced room rates and other costs for contracted services to reflect costs of similar rooms or services at other comparable properties
1) immediate attention by venue to fix the issue to event host’s satisfaction
2) reduction of $ or % off the Master Account
3) complimentary additional and/or upgraded services for remainder of event
Tactical Hint: when requesting a reduction of $ or % off the Master Account – it can be worded with actual percentages or to be mutually determined based on the situation at hand.
The purpose of specifically identifying the rights and remedies when dealing with Quality and Performance Standards in a balanced venue contract is to confirm the physical surroundings and customer service for which the venue claims to provide and for which the group can specifically and contractually expect to receive; and the efforts and obligations of the venue to mitigate any shortcomings in the venue’s physical surroundings and customer service at the time of the event.