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The Prenup for Meetings and Events

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Get the best performance from your “out clause.” It’s in the contract for a reason—to give you an “out” in the event the hotel doesn’t provide the level of service and product expected.

“Out clauses” are kind of like a prenup for your meeting. It sets the level of expectation. Crafting an amicable clause takes just a little bit of effort, and if done right, will lead to a more productive relationship with your hotel partner and ultimately a better executed meeting.

Many clauses try to do too much and end up leaving out crucial details around expectations. This lack of specifics ultimately makes it a very difficult negotiation with the hotel. Be sure to clearly define what is – and isn’t–  good performance. Additionally, using the words “out clause” can put your hotel on edge.

So, here are two tips to make your contract and hotel “perform” to your expectations.

  1.  Change “out clause” to “performance clause”

Everyone makes mistakes, and you don’t really want your hotel thinking that you’ll fire them at the first sign of an error. Every successful event is a partnership, and hotels are far more likely to agree to terms when they know that both sides are working toward the same goal.

  • Define the goal: If you do a post-event survey, you may want to agree on a minimum rating that would define overall success – specifically the parts of the survey the hotel can control.
  • Define those points that you believe make or break a program: Timeliness of events, check-in, guest room readiness, etc.
  • Ask the hotel for their success standards. This “brings them to the table” and helps guide the discussions. Plus, you might be surprised how highly accountable they are to their own performance.
  1. Hold a Nightly Debrief

Just as you would hold a post event meeting with your team to learn what you did right and what you could do better, try and set a nightly meeting up with the Convention Services Manager or Hotel Manager. Have this meeting scheduled during one of your first discussions/negotiations with the hotel team, so you don’t risk the chance of them being “busy.”

During the meeting, discuss their successes and where they might have missed the mark. Be sure to tie these to specific points in your performance clause. Covering this ground each day helps the hotel leadership quickly adjust and deliver better for you the very next day. This meeting is the glue that holds the performance clause together and ensures accountability.

Is a performance clause right for every contract? That depends. Many times it is included in first-time or multi-year agreements where a group returns year after year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t include portions of this strategy in every contract. Make sure you have yourself covered!

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