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Negotiating Meetings & Events Contracts: What You Need to Know to Avoid Costly Disputes

In this 6-module online course, event-team members learn how to strike costs and potential risks from every hospitality contract they sign. Your guide throughout the course is contract- and association-law expert Nathan Breen.


Negotiating Meetings & Events Contracts:
Key Strategies for Avoiding Costly Disputes, Saving Money, and Ensuring Overall Event Success
An Instructor Led eLearning Course for Association Executives

When you plan in-person events, the contracts you sign with the venue could literally put your organization’s finances at enormous risk. So could licensing, trademarks, warranties and other issues with everyone from presenters and entertainers to tour providers.

That’s why it’s critical to negotiate the right terms on every contract.  That means knowing how to spot clauses, sliding scales, and “red flag” language that could lead to costly disputes. You also need to understand the full implications of concepts like “breach” and “damages.” And armed with those insights, you need the practical skills to negotiate terms that save you money and reduce your risks.

Course Format6 Modules, Self Paced, Online (About 1 Hour Each)
Instructor Nathan Breen, Howe & Hutton
Credits7 CAE

In this 6-module online course, event-team members learn how to strike costs and potential risks from every hospitality contract they sign. Your guide throughout the course is contract- and association-law expert Nathan Breen.

Everyone can learn on their own schedule during each module.  From negotiating hotel and convention-center contracts, to avoiding disputes with presenters and entertainers, you’ll learn what specific clauses to include—and delete. You’ll also gain insights that give you greater power to negotiate good terms (such as understanding how hotel profits and concepts like “mitigation of damages” work.   Upon completion, you’ll have 7 CAE/CMP credits plus new power to reduce the costs and the worry of holding in-person events.

Register now to master the art of negotiating hospitality contracts that protect your organization against the high costs of misunderstandings, disputes and unforeseen events, including how to:  
• Differentiate contracts from promises and how the courts interpret specific contract language
• Handle group hotel contracts: minimizing risk and planning for contingencies
• Negotiate attrition and cancellation provisions to your advantage
• Draft “Rights of Termination” agreements that anticipate all manner of “what ifs”
• Protect your organization in negotiating convention center and meeting planning agreements
• Develop contracts with presenters, entertainers, tour providers and other vendors (including copyrights, licensing, warranties, indemnification, insurance and more)

During these six modules, you’ll learn how to dramatically reduce the costs—and conflicts—involved with all your in-person events.  Don’t miss this opportunity to become a pro at negotiating hospitality contracts efficiently and in your organization’s best interests. 
Register now for the Negotiating Hospitality Contracts: What You Need to Know to Avoid Costly Disputes eLearning Course.

This online e-Learning course is of value to all associations and nonprofits that run conferences and other in-person events. Attendees who will benefit most include:
• CEOs
• Directors, Meetings & Events
• Senior Meeting Planners
• Meetings & Events Coordinators
• Directors, Operations
• Conferences Managers
• General Counsel
• Board Members

Course Instructor

Nathan J. Breen

Nathan J. Breen is a partner with Howe & Hutton, Ltd. He earned his undergraduate degree from DePaul University and his Juris Doctorate from The John Marshall Law School where he served on the editorial board of The John Marshall Law Review. Nathan's practice is concentrated in association law with a primary focus on hospitality, antitrust, and intellectual property issues. Nathan also maintains a practice in contracts and commercial litigation. He is former Chair of the Trade and Professional Associations Committee of the Chicago Bar Association. Nathan teaches courses in hospitality law as an adjunct professor at Kendall College.


Module 1: Welcome & Introduction

Module 2: General Contract Formation and Interpretation

What is a contract, and how does it differ from a promise?  Must all contracts be in writing to be enforceable?  What do courts consider when interpreting the terms of a contract?  This module will allow you to determine what constitutes a binding agreement and how such agreements are interpreted.  These contract formation fundamentals are critical to understanding the range of agreements meeting professionals are expected to navigate.
Learning objectives: Differentiate between a contract and a promise
Know the elements of a contract
Understand the concept of consideration
Know which contracts must be in writing and how written contracts are construed
Understand the concepts of breach and damages

Module 3: Hotel Contract Overview

A group hotel contract often depends on the performance of those who are not a party to the agreement, which makes it a uniquely challenging document to understand and negotiate.  This module will focus broadly on the critical components of hotel contracts.  What should all contracts include?  What provisions are required by special circumstances?  What provisions are readily negotiable, and which tend to be major sticking points?  This module will help you understand the lay of the land when it comes to negotiating hotel contract specifics. 
Learning objectives: Identify the critical elements of a contract
Know how to advocate for the party you represent
Evaluate the relative importance of contract clauses
Understand how to identify and minimize risk
Plan for unknown contingencies

Module 4: Attrition and Cancellation

Hotel contracts rest on assumptions as to future conditions and performance by individuals who are not a party to the agreement.  Attrition and cancellation provisions are intended to address these areas of uncertainty in order to provide predictability and comfort to each party to the agreement.  There is substantial push and pull between the parties when negotiating these provisions.  Know the fundamentals of attrition and cancellation and understand the parameters as to what is generally negotiable in these areas.
Learning objectives:  Understand how profits work in a hotel setting
Understand the concept of attrition
Understand sliding scale cancellation damages
Understand the concept of mitigation of damages
Know how to use attrition and cancellation provisions to your advantage after negotiation

Module 5: Rights of Termination Without Cause

Hotel contracts are negotiated in advance based on shared assumptions about the conditions that will exist when the contract is performed.  Changing times often bring a changing landscape as to contractual performance.  A well drafted agreement anticipates all manner of “what ifs” in advance.  Know what should be included in a properly drafted and negotiated hotel contract to ensure the party you represent is adequately protected from changing circumstances.
Learning objectives:  Understanding and being able to effectively negotiation contract provisions as to: 
Force majeure
Strikes or labor disputes
Conflicts between groups
Essential facilities

Module 6: Convention Center and Meeting Planning Agreements

While not quite as ubiquitous as hotel contracts, meeting professionals should know their way around convention center and meeting planning agreements.  Convention center agreements resemble real estate licenses and are often much less negotiable.  Understand where there is and is not likely to be flexibility in such negotiations.  Both independent meeting professionals and large meeting planning organizations need to know how to ensure that their interests are protected when contracting with clients who do not understand how the event management business works and often require guidance as to what they are signing up for and why.  Know how to protect yourself and avoid costly and stressful contract disputes.
Learning objectives: Understand what makes a convention center agreement uniquely challenging
Know what is and is not likely to be negotiable in a convention center agreement
Understand the importance of a well drafted event management agreement for use with clients

Know the most efficient way to incorporate legal and practical components into a well drafted agreement
Understand and effectively leverage risk management provisions

Module 7: Other Hospitality Related Agreements
Event management is more than just hotels and clients.  Presenters, entertainers, tour providers, and recreational vendors all present unique contract challenges.  Understand the risks involved in these types of agreements and know what to insist upon from those with whom you contract.
Learning objectives: Understand the basics of copyright and trademark law
Understand the concept of licensing vs. assignment of ownership
Know what warranties should be included in an agreement
Understand the concept and importance of indemnification
Understand the basics of insurance as to event related agreements


Group Pricing (2nd Learner and Up)$199/person


This course qualifies for 7 CAE Credits

Columbia Books & Information Services is a CAE Approved Provider.  This program meets the requirements for fulfilling the professional development requirements to earn or maintain the Certified Association Executive credential.  Every program that we offer which qualifies for CAE credit will clearly identify the number of CAE credits granted for full participation, and we will maintain records of your participation in accord with CAE policies.  For more information about the CAE credential or Approved Provider program, please visit Note: This program is not endorsed, accredited, or affiliated with ASAE or the CAE program.  Applicants may use any program that meets eligibility requirements in the specific timeframe towards the exam application or renewal.  There are no specific individual courses required as part of the applications – selection of eligible education is up to the applicant based on his/her needs.