Meeting Mentor Magazine

October 2019

Standard Contracts: Good Idea or Impossible Dream?

A promotion from a Midwestern city convention and visitors bureau (CVB) recently caught the attention of industry attorney Joshua Grimes, Esq. (pictured), Grimes Law Offices, in Philadelphia. “I had to click through the link on the sponsored content I saw in one of the industry e-newsletters to see the details,” he said of the city’s program, which is designed to reduce repetitive paperwork and negotiations by having all hotels in the city agree to use one standard master contract to cover the basics, with each hotel spelling out specifics in an addendum.

While he was disappointed not to be able to see the contract itself when he clicked through to learn more, he did see what sounds like some pretty attractive promises to help meeting professionals simplify the process of booking multiple hotels in the city. “For example, it says that the contract would allow 10 percent attrition without penalty, and it says that force majeure, change in management, renovation/remodeling clauses are all written from a client perspective by an industry attorney. The hotel also will agree to indemnify your group, to resale if you have attrition and to treat you fairly in a cancellation situation.”

“This sounds great, but there are some things to think about,” he said, adding that the idea had been tried a few years ago by a hotel chain.

First, the potential benefits:

• If it works, you save a lot of time by having just one negotiation and one contract for all the hotels you are using, once you have negotiated the initial contract, he said. This could be a big time-saver if the standard force majeure and attrition clauses are fair so you don’t have to negotiate them separately with each hotel you’re using.

• The addendum for each property should be fairly easy because you may only need the specific terms for each property, such as the required room block, Grimes added.

• “If you have to cancel under the force majeure clause, if you have the same clause for all your hotels, there shouldn’t be any questions of being able to cancel at all your hotels, because if you can cancel under force majeure for one, you can cancel at all of them,” he said.

Grimes did say to look carefully to make sure it will work for your group:

• Because each group is different, what’s considered to be “fair” in the master contract may not work for your meeting.

• Because the hotels have agreed to this standard contract, there may be less flexibility to negotiate exceptions to various clauses.

• A hotel could use the addendum to exempt itself from the standard terms of the agreement. “Just because there’s a standard contract doesn’t mean there might not be clauses in the addendum that seek to differentiate a particular hotel from the force majeure or attrition clause in the agreement,” Grimes said.

• A convention and visitors bureau (CVB) can’t compel a hotel to agree to each clause — that’s going to be up to each hotel, he said. And depending on what each hotel puts in its addendum, it may not actually be any simpler in the long run.

That said, Grimes likes the idea overall, adding, “Just be careful. Standard contracts sound great, but they can be hard to make happen.” — Sue Pelletier

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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 2,500 corporations and associations through our 325 Associates globally. www.conferencedirect.com

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, the leading publication for senior meeting planners, is circulated to the clients, prospects and sales associates of ConferenceDirect, which books more than 3.87 million room nights. www.meetingmentormag.com

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