19 items to consider adding to your event planner contract or venue contract
NOTE: We are not attorneys here at Planning Pod, so the information in this article should not be interpreted or construed as legal advice. Please consult your attorney regarding the drafting of any contracts for venues or event planners.
New relationships with event clients can be exciting and full of promise. You want to start off right with them and not give them a reason to turn-and-bolt before you start managing their special events, and sometimes event professionals don’t want to scare them away by putting an event contract full of legalese in front of them to sign.
However, event contract agreements are for the benefit of both you and your client because it spells out in black-and-white a clear understanding between the event planner or venue and the client. Ideally it protects both of you, and this is a good way to explain this to a client who is balking at signing an event management agreement that has been drawn up in good faith and is easy to understand (so don’t fill your contracts with lots of complex legal terms without describing them fully).
In a solid contract, expectations are clearly defined on what materials and services will be delivered, how much they will cost, how the provider will be paid and how the two parties will handle most situations that could arise during the course of the project.
And although in many cases verbal agreements are legally enforceable, without a signed document you will have a difficult time proving the terms and conditions of the agreement … which is why it’s always smart to get it all in writing and signed.
Also, make sure to give your client enough time to adequately review the terms and conditions you lay out in front of them and give them time to raise objections and concerns and negotiate before both parties sign.
Another key thing to remember is that signing a legal contract is usually at the very bottom of your clients' priorities, so you should not let their reluctance to sign translate into you putting it off for so long that you never get their signature. A few event planning apps and venue software platforms like Planning Pod offer online signature capabilities to simplify the signing processes for clients so you can focus on other vital tasks.
So what’s included in a typical venue contract or event planner contract? Here are 19 things you typically see in these agreements.
Note that many of the items here are also applicable in catering contracts, venue rental agreements, photographer contracts and entertainer contracts.
1. Client details
Include the names of signers (that is, all parties who are identified as the client being served under the contract) and their address and contact information.
2. Timeframe of contract
This should include any date-related information, including the actual event dates and times (including setup/teardown periods), venue rental dates or periods and date change policies. Also include fields where the signers can provide the date(s) they applied their signatures.
3. Services and materials offered
Be thorough in describing the scope of the services and materials you will be offering, including any details (like hours allotted, headcounts, menus, rental items, etc.), definitions and limitations (that is, any key services you will not be providing).
4. Venue spaces
Often event venue contracts define the rooms or spaces that will be rented for the event.
5. Fees and billing
Along with the services and materials offered, you should include descriptions of prices and costs of those items (and for event planner contracts you should include hours and hourly rates, if applicable). This is also where you would include minimums (like minimum food-and-beverage purchase or minimum room bookings in the case of a hotel). A good idea here is to include your event proposal, quote or estimate as an attachment to the event contract.
6. Payment schedule
Don’t forget to include in your event planner contract or venue contract a payment schedule, which includes payment installment due dates and milestones as well as late fees and how they will be assessed.
As part of your payment schedule, you should also include any required deposits (like damage or security deposits), whether they are refundable or non-refundable and terms of forfeiture of the deposit.
8. Cancellation clause
Sometimes clients need to cancel their event (like weddings or performances), so your event contract should include cancellations terms that outline acceptable cancellation reasons plus milestones and costs for cancellation. For event planner contracts, you may want to also add that the client is responsible for all work completed up to the day of cancellation and for any vendor commitments and deposits that you have already agreed to on their behalf.
9. Termination clause
There may also be cases where you - the venue or event planner - need to cancel your services due to an unforeseen and unpredictable circumstance (fire, flooding, etc.). This is often called a force majeure or act-of-god clause, and it should delineate when this would apply. You should also define when you can terminate the agreement if your client violates the terms and conditions of the event contract.
10. Refund policies
If applicable, you can also add refund policies on to your cancellation and termination terms, when refunds apply and how much will be refunded at particular milestone dates.
11. Indemnification clause
This clause is important because it protects the event planner, event management company or venue against damages, injuries, losses, lawsuits and settlements that are due to negligence of the client, the client’s guests and/or the client’s vendors/suppliers. For example, if guests become critically ill due to the client’s catering vendor, the indemnification clause shifts the responsibility to your client instead of you. Or if the client’s transportation vendor hits a bystander, then the client is responsible for all damages and not your business or venue.
12. Outside vendors/contractors
Often event facility rental agreements include vendor guidelines for any vendors and suppliers hired by the client (caterers, entertainment, DJs, rental companies, etc.). In addition, some venues also include preferred vendor lists that outline specifically which vendors can be hired to provide services in their venue.
13. Decor policies
Identify what kinds of decor your clients are permitted to hang or display and provide guidelines for such.
14. Setup, teardown and cleanup policies
This is important information to include, especially in venue contracts where you need the client to be out of the space by a certain time and what they are responsible for cleaning up.
15. Noise restrictions and permits
A clause commonly included in venue rental agreements (especially for facilities in residential settings), this outlines any noise restrictions and ordinances that the client must comply with as well as what types of permits the client is required to obtain and when they need to have them by.
16. Alcohol policies and guidelines
Any facility that either serves alcohol or that allows clients to hire bar vendors to serve alcohol on-premise should have alcohol serving and consumption policies as part of their overall event space rental contract.
17. Insurance requirements
Recommended if you require event clients to carry certain types of insurance (like liability insurance for accidents and damages).
18. Photo release clause
Do you want to be able to use event photography (that includes faces of guests) in your marketing and promotional materials? Then you will need to add a photo release clause to your event planner contracts or venue contracts to get the client’s approval to use such photography.
19. Confidential information or NDA clause
If you offer proprietary processes or reveal any trade secrets to your clients, you may want to include a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) clause in your event contract to protect against that information being disclosed.
Finally … once you and your attorney have determined all the legal language and clauses you need in your contracts, you may want to create one or more event contract templates that you can easily modify when necessary. You can also search the Web for event planner contract templates or event venue contract templates to use as a starting point.