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Douglas Spencer

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Hotel contracts [Mar. 3rd, 2011|12:31 am]
Douglas Spencer
You're organising a large event, for which purpose you wish to have a contract with the hotel. You have three or four meetings with the hotel over the course of a few months, and they then send you a copy of the proposed contract.

The contract bears very little relationship to the discussions you've had with them. The few things that are specified are specified incorrectly, and there are many things that ought to be specified which are not mentioned at all.

Poll #1712753 Hotel Contracts

Your default assumption is...

They're incompetent
They're trying to screw you

The number of iterations before there's a contract you can sign might typically be...

Seven or more
I've known events where the contract is still not ready by the time the event arrives

We're about fourteen months out at this stage.

[User Picture]From: ann_totusek
2011-03-03 03:10 am (UTC)
I'm thinking that their first contract regardless of any discussions you've had with them is likely to be their standard contract, virtually no changes. The second one incorporates the things that you've asked for that they're willing to do without even thinking. After you get that one, you sit down and write out each point that you need inserted/removed into/from the contract, handwriting those changes on the second copy of the contract as they agree to them. Once all the changes are noted by hand, you get them to initial that copy of the contract, noting that the changes have been agreed to and will be included in the final copy of the contract. You then have them make a copy. You take the original, they take the copy. Next meeting, you bring your original initialed working copy of the contract and compare it line by line to whatever new contract they bring. If it's not perfect, you either get them to change it right then and there, printing up a new contract to get it signed, or don't deal with them. Make clear at the second meeting that this is what you expect at the third meeting. If you can get this in less than three meetings, yay! It's certainly not the only way to do it, but it's one way.
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[User Picture]From: bohemiancoast
2011-03-03 09:30 am (UTC)
This, pretty much. That's why getting them to send through a draft contract, even if totally wrong and months late, is so important -- you can redraft, send back, and start to negotiate properly.
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[User Picture]From: ingaborg
2011-03-03 09:29 am (UTC)
My default assumption would be that they are incompetent AND are trying to screw you.
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[User Picture]From: gaspodia
2011-03-03 09:51 am (UTC)
Most hotels are limited by their hotel software. In many cases, editing is not possible and they have to redraft it each time so something to watch out for is changes to things you thought you'd already agreed in a previous version.

One way round this is to keep the hotel contract reasonably brief and general and have it refer to a separate catering/room/other contract, which you both sign to agree variations to the standard hotel stuff in clearly laid out plain English that you can wave in front of hotel staff on the day.

I'm happy to dig out an example and discuss this further with you at Illustrious if you like :)
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[User Picture]From: j_lj
2011-03-03 10:39 am (UTC)
Been there done that. Some hotels are great and are able to do what you ask them. Some not so, especialy the big chain ones where they can only stick in a few extra lines in their automated hotel contract software.

I once did an event after one phone call and the shake of the hand with the hotel manager and we did not have any problems at all. And that was my wedding.

My tip is to keep the contract as brief as possible and lay it out in plain English.
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[User Picture]From: djelibeybi
2011-03-03 07:20 pm (UTC)
As with pretty much every other type of contract, if a professional company gets it wrong more than twice, I'm outta there. Likelihood of them getting anything else right would be doubtful.

I've seen plenty of really bad first attempts come out just fine after a structured response. It seems the standard.
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[User Picture]From: andrewwilde
2011-03-03 10:01 pm (UTC)
The bigger the company, the more likely a third party (corporate department, etc) will write it all. Expect nothing to be right, and lots of sticking points the local staff are happy with but the contract never reflects.

If the on-the-ground staff seem helpful and good, talk to them about how to best get around their procedures & corporate departments... Others have suggested a separate plain-English contract over-riding the bits you don't like. Seems a good idea to me, if the local staff can accept one...
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