The blizzard of 2016, aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and terrorist attacks in Paris and Mali have reinforced the importance of planning for the “what if” before signing a hotel or venue contract “as-is.”. BTW, you should never sign a hotel or venue contract “as is”. Ever.
Hotel and venue contracts are most always written one-sided. Guess who they are written to protect?
You do not have to be a lawyer to negotiate a hotel or venue contract. However, you do need to be aware of the basic elements of a hotel contract, what each clause means, and how it may affect your bottom line.
Remember, everything is negotiable.
One of the most important clauses in a hotel or venue contract is the “force majeure” clause.
force majeure // n. – (French for superior force). impossible to perform.
A “force majeure” clause is a provision in a hotel or venue contract that relieves both parties from performing their contractual obligations when disaster strikes or certain circumstances arise beyond their control.
Draft a “force majeure” clause with the following elements:
Anticipate events that could happen beyond your control such as natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and tornadoes sometimes referred to as “acts of God.” Other events or crisis may include war, terrorism or threats of terrorism, civil disorder, labor strikes or riots, travel disruptions, disease outbreaks. Think. 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Ebola. Any of these events may prevent attendees from travel and or attendance at your meeting or event. Always take into consideration the geographic location of your event. What types of weather related incidents are are common for the event or meeting location.
In today’s environment, there are more than not many instances or events that could affect your non-performance of the contract, that may not be listed within the general definition of force majeure. Think: change of state flag, remodeling or deterioration of a hotel property. While not all events and unforeseeable events can be covered or anticipated, a concluding phrase such as “any and other events including emergencies or non-emergencies” should be added to clause.
Are you responsible for booking meeting space or hotels? Do you sign your contracts as is? This is your secret weapon.