Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio November
The Law & the Planner
By Jonathan T. Howe,
UNSIGNED AGREEMENTS &AND MORE
Answers to planners’ questions on exhibitor contracts, deals
in progress and room-block tallies
Q: I am trying to keep my contracts current with my clients. A
need has arisen to define the word “exhibitors.” I have looked
everywhere, including the dictionary (which defines “exhibit” but
not “exhibitors”), but I have not had any luck. Is an exhibitor a
company that exhibits or an individual representing a company that
has exhibits? Does it refer to an individual person or a group of
Elizabeth E. Porter, CMP
EP Productions Inc.
A: There are several sources for industry definitions. In fact,
the Convention Industry Council is in the process of updating a
complete glossary. Currently, a glossary is included in the seventh
edition of the Convention Industry Council Manual (www.c-l-c.org). There, an
exhibitor is defined as a “company or organization sponsoring an
exhibit booth.” The “exhibitor” is the person (such as a sole
proprietor) or organization paying for the exhibit space.
Q: What rights do I have if a hotel sends me a contract, I sign
it, and then the hotel says the contract is not valid because they
didn’t sign it? I had verbal definites from the sales manager.
American Youth Soccer Organization
A: Unfortunately, what you received from the hotel was an
invitation to make an offer. Until both parties have signed on the
dotted line, there is no contract.
The oral statement does not carry much weight. By sending you a
written proposal, the hotel clearly positioned itself to override
any oral commitments that might have been made.
In the situation that you have described, I am not so sure I
would ever want to do business again with that property or
organization because of the approach taken. While legally correct,
the business relationship is certainly tainted.
When you get an unsigned proposal, view it as just that. Until
the other side agrees with the terms and conditions that they have
proffered, there is no contract.
A lesson here: Do not rely on oral representations. Deal with
people you like. Don’t be taken off guard by the fast-talking
individual who promises you everything but cannot deliver
Q: A persistent question we receive concerns attendees who book
outside the block. Can the group get credit for rooms booked on the
Internet or by some other means? And how can planners verify the
numbers the hotel presents as the final room count?
A: The key for the meeting professional is to contractually
provide for credit for any attendee who shows up, regardless of how
the room reservation was made.
This is important not only to avoid attrition fees, but also to
obtain perks that depend on rooms occupied, such as complimentary
sleeping and meeting rooms, as well as commissions that might be
due under the contact.
Some ways to verify the room block: At registration, ask
attendees where they are staying, and do your own count. Also, be
sure your contract gives you access to housing information from the
hotel on a daily basis.
Even with these efforts, the system is rife with glitches. In
the future, planners might just book a few rooms for speakers,
directors and VIPs, and let attendees book their own lodging in the
same way to book their travel to the meeting. In other words, it
could turn into a real jungle.Jonathan T.
Howe, Esq., is a senior partner in the Chicago and
Washington, D.C., law firm of Howe & Hutton, Ltd., which
specializes in meetings, travel and hospitality law. Legal
questions can be e-mailed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back to Current Issue indexM&C
| Events Calendar
| Incentive News
| Meetings Market ReportEditorial
| CVB Links
| Reader Survey
| Hot Dates
| Contact M&C