In all my writings, speeches and rants at meetings, I am often asked what’s the best tip or greatest “gotcha.” Recently, after concluding the filming of PYM’s “Contract tips and traps” Knowledge Series video, I was reflecting on the input provided and the value of what was shared. Then it occurred to me that one of the biggest traps regarding contracts didn’t involve years of experience, dozens of mistakes and years of sleepless nights. It has to do with something so very simple that “even a caveman could do it” (no, this is not a plug for Geico).
It comes down to re-checking and verifying all of the pertinent items contained within the agreement. Basic, huh? Yes! But you would be surprised how many times this that seems trivial, is often taken for granted. And when it is, you may be putting yourself in a very, very uncomfortable position.
To prevent that from happening, make sure you do the following.
Verify your dates.
This is the number one issue often encountered when you quickly skim an agreement. For example, your meetings dates are the 10th, 11th and 12th. When is your setup day or days? When do you arrive? Is it the day of the meeting or the evening before? Check, then double check, that your arrival dates, sleeping room blocks and meeting space are all insync.
Verify your space.
Go back to any proposals and correspondence between you and the venue to ensure that all of your needs are in the agreement. This not only goes for any general session and classroom space, but any office space, storage and registration as well. Check to see if it is secured or unsecured, and if it’s being held on a 24-hour basis? Remember, if you don’t specify it, it will be assumed you don’t need it!
Verify your rates.
This goes for all sleeping rooms, suites, meeting space, storage, registration, office, setup, ballroom, food & beverage charges and anything else you have listed on your agenda, which should be attached or included with your agreement. Whenever possible, have room names assigned to each function and insert a clause to ensure that re-assignment of meeting space will not be done without your approval.
Don’t sign what you don’t understand.
Never accept a clause or section as “standard stuff.” That clause may put you, your company or client in significant peril or increased risk. When in doubt, have your company’s legal counsel review, or call on someone with the expertise to advise you based on their experience.
The often sought after win-win scenario is only achieved when both parties feel that they have been open and honest. If you have the need to “get” the hotel, I have found that the hotel has more ways to “get” you back. When all cards are on the table and your meeting wants and needs are addressed, you’ll find that you’ll enjoy the experience and all of those at your event will enjoy the work you’ve done for them.
“Don’t expect what you don’t inspect!”
Famous last words, but all too often true. Take the time to ensure your accuracy and you will be well on your way to another successful meeting or event. The devil is in the details. But then again, we all knew that … Right!