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Where Do I Start? 5 Keys To Determine What Is Most Important In A Client’s Contract

The last thing you want to be is an event planner that conducts business with nothing more than a handshake and a verbal promise — you would be surprised how often this is done — but it neither benefits you or the client. Contracts are essential, but it is often difficult to balance the needs of your client, and cover your own bases at the same time. Clients are all different and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However there are basic rules to follow when preparing an appropriate contract that suits the needs of everyone involved.

Female hand signing a contract

#1 Focus On The Details

Whether it’s a convention, tradeshow, fundraiser, or gala event, it’s always essential to ask questions and actively listen. Focus on what’s important to your client, understand their needs, and document everything in detail. Sometimes decisions are made but details aren’t finalized within the contract. Obviously, you won’t have every detail in place when the client signs the contract, but stating a maximum cost for services is wise. It is also wise to stipulate that final details will follow by a certain date.

#2 Maintain Flexibility

When it comes to planning an event, you need to account for changes within your contract. Flexibility is something that a client will appreciate. For example, when dealing with vendors you want to make sure that your contract stipulates reasonable compensations and concessions if details are not delivered as promised. Remember, a happy client leads to referrals!

#3 Don’t Forget The Cancellation Policy

You would be surprised how many venues don’t have a cancellation clause if they should cancel your event, however it’s something that’s going to be very important to your client, and may even determine whether or not someone books with you. Your contract should discuss what a client will receive as compensation if the venue cancels, or what the penalty will be for them if they cancel.

#4 Keep It Concise

Think of your contract as a receipt. A receipt is short and sweet, but still has all the necessary information included. A contract should always be presented in a clear and concise manner, to avoid headaches later.

#5 Stay On Task

Every contract should include important information about the event being planned. Here is a short list of some of the things a planner needs to consider when preparing a contract. From the basic conference to the grand product launch, it’s a good idea to make a detailed list of specifics for any given event, to ensure you do not miss anything.

  • Date of the event
  • Size of the event
  • Style of the event
  • Third party vendor policies (such as décor, audiovisual, catering)
  • Start and end times, including set-up and tear-down times
  • Prices and payment schedule.
  • What goods and services are included in the prices
  • Detailed list of earned concessions for contract performance (such as room pick-up, food & beverage)
  • Cancellation deadlines and penalties

A good planner keeps the client’s best interest at heart. Being detail-oriented and actively listening to your client will help you in determining what is important in any given contract.

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