Negotiating a Vendor Contract

In follow up to my post on vendor selection, the next step of our vendor management service is negotiating the chosen vendor contract.

Vendor Contract Events with Ginger & Co.

First off, my lawyer wants me to tell you that the following is intended for general purposes only, does not constitute legal advice, and that you should consult legal counsel when negotiating vendor contracts.

We depend on lawyers to review the legalese of vendor contracts such as the relationship of the parties, governing jurisdiction, force majeure and indemnification clauses. But it is the job of the event planner to review the event details outlined in a vendor contract so that they meet the needs of the event.

Ideally, the vendor’s proposal has already brought you to a place of agreement on the service description, date, time, location and fee. Although you may be happy with the cost of the service, it may not be until the contract that you see the vendor’s payment terms and overtime charges.

An advance payment of 50% is typical but can be a hefty loss if the cancellation policy includes a forfeit of the entire deposit. We do our best to negotiate a lower cancellation fee and often a credit of the fee to a future event.

When working with a returning vendor to an annual event, it doesn’t just mean we change the date on the previous contract and go along our merry way. We often need to go back to the drawing board when their pricing or services have changed.

And, of course, there are the event details that may not be necessary or appropriate to include in the vendor contract but are important to discuss early in the process (aka before the contract is signed):

  • The time of service says 6-10 p.m. on the photographer’s contract but you don’t want to be nervous at 5:55 p.m. about whether or not he is going to show up so make sure you confirm and add to your timeline an arrival time 30-60 minutes prior.
  • Your guests will be wearing cocktail dresses and suits, so can your audio-visual team wear black jeans or should they be dressed in dark slacks and a button-down shirt?
  • These days assuming your vendors have a $1 million+ business liability insurance policy is not enough. Request a COI and find out if your venue requires it to be in their name.

Stay tuned to the Events with Ginger & Co. blog for upcoming posts on some of our favorite vendors!

About Ginger Berman

As President of Events with Ginger & Co., Ginger oversees the planning of 15-20 events each year, including the five simultaneous Light The Night Walks for the NJ chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, as well as conferences and gala dinners for various other nonprofit organizations and corporate and professional services firms.

Previously, as Special Projects Manager/Consultant to the co-founders of the organization Autism Speaks, she designed and executed events from concept to completion, ensuring they went off without a hitch and met their awareness-building and fundraising potential. High-profile events included the first chefs’ tasting in NYC to offer table-side cooking to over 370 people, which raised over $1.1 million, and the $1.8 million Concert for Autism Speaks featuring Lionel Richie.

Prior to joining Autism Speaks, Ginger created the position of Marketing Manager, Conference and Event Planning at the New York headquarters office of White & Case, one of the largest and most prestigious law firms in the world. She managed client-facing retreats, educational seminars and other special events for the firm. In 2007, she returned to the firm as a consultant, organizing six days of events in three months time, including registration, hotel, airport transfers, two receptions, an all-day meeting and a black tie dinner dance for more than 550 people.

Ginger earned her B.S., magna cum laude, in Mass Communications from Towson University and also attended American University of Rome in Italy. She lives in Westfield, NJ with her husband and son.

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