This month, we are breaking down tips for successful contract negotiations. A part of the process that can make or break your event, contract negotiations should be approached and executed carefully and thoughtfully. As contracts are generally not specific to just event planning, these tips can be used in other areas of life and business as well.

For event planners, the process of negotiating a contract begins with a Request for Proposal (RFP). In an RFP, we outline what is needed from the selected potential partner/vendor to create a successful event, a budget (if available) and a reasonable due date. For the best results from potential partners, an RFP should be specific, clearly written, and sent far enough in advance for a detailed response.

The Third Avenue Events tips for negotiation:

  • Refer to the Golden Rule: Treat others how you would want to be treated. If you want a great contract with all the bells and whistles for you and your client, treat your possible vendor partner (hotel, DMC, restaurant, etc.) with respect, timeliness and most importantly, realistic expectations.
  • Respect: Yes, you’ve outlined what your must have’s and nice to have’s are, and have requested them accordingly. But, ask nicely and understand if the answer is “no.” Remember last month when we discussed “breaking up?” Well, respect goes a long way if this is where you end up.
  • Timeliness: If the potential partner has questions, answer them in a timely manner. Sometimes there’s a delay on the client side of things, just do your best to keep the vendors informed.
  • Realistic expectations: You will have more success in negotiations if you are realistic about what you are asking for and communicate your expectations clearly and upfront.
  • Document, document, document! If you have a phone conversation, follow-up with the details in an email (we suggest this for almost all phone conversations).
  • Be prepared to give and take a little. For example, you may have to shift on room rate to get the space you want, the dates you want, etc. Understand what is important to the client and try to accomplish those goals.
  • Be open with the client. If you feel a space, city, hotel, entertainer, etc. is not the best option for the overall event goals, make sure you are communicating openly.
  • Proof! Have a teammate, or several, proof the contract. Take your time, read every word, and ask questions before signing. A little extra time re-reading the fine print could save you a lot of trouble down the line.

Do you have any tips for contract negotiation that we didn’t cover above? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!