Although Steve Davies hasn't got one he can include in this article he has written about why you really do need a contract with the convention hotel.
See also Site Liaison
Why Do You Need A Contract?
You need a contract because:
- The friendly banqueting manager who agreed to everything you asked for is going to go and work for another hotel. You'll probably go through 3 or 4 different contacts and it's essential to have a continuing document.
- Even if they don't leave, they won't be at the convention and the staff who are there on the day won't know (or believe) what's been agreed.
- Because hotels will try and squeeze more revenue out of anything they can, as a matter of principal.
- Because contracts written by the hotel are completely useless and because we have vastly more experience at knowing what we actually want.
- Because even if you agree something with the management, they then have to inform their deputies, who inform their juniors, who pass the information to the appropriate department who .... Anyway, by the time it gets to the end of the chain it's often a bit distorted. At Reconvene, it took us at least three separate attempts (that I know of) before we could get the bar staff to serve fresh orange juice at the agreed price. Not because the hotel were unwilling, but because they just weren't used to what we wanted and the message had got garbled.
What Goes In The Contract
No, honestly. If you want the hotel to provide something then include it in the contract. Typically this will include:
- Function rooms to be used by the convention and the exact dates on which they are to be made available. Remember to have a couple of rooms available for storage both before and after the con.
- Prices of function space. If you are getting it free, the contract must say so or else you will wind up paying some exorbitant amount entirely unexpectedly.
- Bar prices. If they won't commit to a set price, try "no more than 75% of the price of a pint of beer in the hotel's bar during the week before the convention."
- Provision of food and drink, prices, times and special variants (vegetarian, vegan etc.) It's worth trying to get across to the hotel that these should be varied, but the contract is probably not the best place for that.
- Room rates and the dates on which these apply. Useful clauses like "the hotel must inform the convention before it releases any rooms due to the people who have booked them not showing up."
- Free rooms, suites etc. If you take the whole hotel, it's common for them to throw in a couple of free suites for use by the organisers. Either give these to your guests or use them for programme.
- Restrictions on access by non-members.
- Special events (e.g. banquet, public parties) where the hotel is providing a service of some sort.
- Corkage rates.
- Mushrooms at breakfast. Or any other strange requirements that you really want to provide.
What to do with it now you've got it?
Well, first of all you have to get the hotel to agree to it. Usually they're so shell-shocked by having someone care about this that they'll go ahead and sign it without too much protest. Don't try and push your luck, though. Be flexible. Remember that we can't actually afford to enforce this contract, so it's really an agreement rather than a proper contract.
Hotel liaison should have a copy so that they can wave it at recalcitrant members of the hotel staff (don't try this on management-you'll quickly learn that if the hotel wants to break the contract they will and there's not much anyone can do about it). Sections dealing with things like bar hours and prices can be posted on public noticeboards, though you probably don't want to make the whole thing public.
An Example Contract
I need a sample contract. Please email me one and I'll try and include it. email@example.com