When I was in high school, my best friend was a girl named Amy. Amy was tall, blonde, and gorgeous. A cheerleader, on Homecoming court, popular. Everything Amy did was noticed—good and bad.
Meanwhile, I could get away with all kinds of mischief precisely because I was a quiet brunette and not in the spotlight.
Contracts are like this, too.
We spend our time focusing on the “flashy” clauses—attrition and cancellation in particular. And rightly so, because they can have a big financial impact. But there are other clauses that can cause a great deal of mischief if not paid attention to. In particular, construction, incompatible groups and surcharges and fees are mischief makers.
Construction clauses need to be negotiated in two areas. The first is communication: the facility needs to let the planner know (a) as soon as they know construction or remodeling is planned and (b) if construction is going to interfere with the meeting. The second area is determining a remedy: what will the facility do for the group if the meeting is disrupted?
Incompatible groups include both competitive groups and groups that may be disruptive because of noise or their very nature (think adult entertainment or a kid’s event). Again, specify what will make the group happy and whole.
The key to a beneficial surcharges and fees clause is to enumerate all of the surcharges and fees to be charged to the group or directly to attendees and then specify that neither will be liable for any other fees that aren’t spelled out in the contract.
Watch out for quiet brunettes and for the “lesser” contract clauses. They can be unexpected mischief makers.