Contract Advice From a Pro

contract advice
Words of wisdom from Jonathan Howe, Esq.

Speaking at “Meetings in the Age of Coronavirus,” an all-day virtual conference held on Monday, industry attorney Jonathan Howe, Esq., Howe & Hutton, Ltd., offered attendees some valuable contract advice.

Moving or canceling your meeting in these times is no simple matter. During Monday’s “Meetings in the Age of Coronavirus” virtual conference, presented by Dianne Devitt, industry attorney Jonathan Howe, Esq., offered some words of wisdom and contract advice.

A few things to consider:

Timing matters

If you have events happening in states with with shelter in place, or your hotel is shut down, or the government has limited travel, these are conditions happening at the time of the meeting over which you have no control. But the further away you are from the date of the program, the more unlikely it is that you will “be able to avail yourself of certain legal remedies,” said Howe.

There’s an indirect impact to canceling

What will it mean if you can’t get those high performers together for the annual incentive program?  “The incentive program that they were looking so forward to being able to participate in was a reward for their outstanding performance in the past year in meeting goals and the like.” he pointed out. It’s the same with getting your customers together. “These all have financial loss aspects overall.”

Consider the “ripple effect” of amendments

Consider, any time you enter into an amendment: “Have you protected yourself as to a future date, as to something else occurring, that might make it impossible for purposes of being able to meet the obligations and to hold the program?” he said.

Every contract is different

Howe emphasized that his session was not meant to be legal advice, and planners need a thorough evaluation of their contracts and cancellation insurance. “Even though you may be able to get out of Contract A, you may not be able to relieve yourself of Contract B.”

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Barbara Scofidio is editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In 25 years of covering the industry, her articles have spanned topics ranging from social media to strategic meetings management. She is currently the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee and was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of Site, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. A familiar face at industry events, Barbara often leads panel discussions or speaks on topics close to her heart, such as green meetings or how the industry can help combat human trafficking. She is also on the board of ECPAT USA, the human trafficking organization. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.