Event planning and management is about details. One confusing and frustrating aspect can be dealing with the myriad of vendor contracts generated around an event. Dealing with supplier contracts for events like venue rentals, supplier services and hotels can be a complex and tedious process.
Negotiating (and often renegotiating) rates, fees, cancellation clauses and more, can seem like and endless process. Add to this the frustration and time internal procedures can take for contract review and approval and you can see the need for streamlining the process.
Many companies use their internal legal departments to review and approve contracts for their organization including special events. Often, priority is given to contracts that result in direct sales revenue. Event department contracts are often viewed with a lower priority. With a little ingenuity, it’s possible to significantly reduce the time it takes to get your supplier contracts for events approved. Here are 6 tips to speed up the contract approval process for events.
1. Develop relationships with members of your legal team.
Get to know the key members of your corporate legal team responsible for handling your contracts. Even if you have one primary contact in the department, try to get to know the other members. You may find yourself working with a team member other than your contact person and people tend to react more positively to someone they have a relationship with.
2. Understand the process.
Work with your legal team to create a streamlining process. As the event planner, crunch the numbers and handle logistical details like dates, rates, space, services etc. Have legal scrutinize the legal terms of the contract such as cancellation penalties, force majeure or indemnification clauses.
3. Identify “deal-breakers.”
Work with legal to identify potential problem clauses and then create pre-approved versions. Supply the correct verbiage to your vendors to include in their contracts. By including the pre-approved verbiage, you can cut down on revisions and rewrites. This will expedite the review process for your legal team.
4. Review and negotiate event-specific details before forwarding the contract.
There are two key aspects to event contracts; the event related details, and the legal terminology. Before submitting your contracts to legal, negotiate the event specific details and make modifications with your vendors. In addition, check the contract for your pre-approved verbiage to avoid “deal-breaker” clauses. After your review, send the contract to legal with a note saying that you’ve completed your review. Legal can then focus exclusively on the legal terminology.
5. Keep revisions to a minimum.
Often, supplier contracts for events will go through several back and forth revisions between your legal team and vendors with your time spent acting as a liaison. Work with legal to develop a system for streamlining the process. Agree to a maximum number of back-and-forth revisions. For example, allow for two revisions, then set-up a meeting with the vendor and legal with the goal of a finalized contract. Make sure you’re in attendance so you’re aware of the final terms.
6. Expedite only when necessary!
Only ask for a contract to be expedited when absolutely necessary. Remember, your legal team is working on contracts for many departments and each one feels that theirs is the most important! Show an understanding of the pressure your legal team is under. When the time comes that you need a contract expedited, and it will, they’ll be more likely to honor your request.
Working closely with your company’s legal department ahead of time, and setting up systems to streamline the approval process can save your company time, money, and remove much of the stress in the process.