When you take on a new client for your event planning business, a verbal agreement is never enough. You need a written event contract to outline the terms and conditions of your service. The contract will be the go-to source if a dispute arises.
To protect yourself, make sure your event planning contract includes these details
1. Payment schedule
When do you want clients to pay you for your work? Most event planning work includes an initial deposit, with the rest paid after the event.
In your contract and in your event planning timeline, set a due date for the initial deposit. Put it in print that you will not begin work until the client pays that
The client can pay the remainder when the event ends, or in smaller increments for each milestone in the planning phase. Be sure to break down the line items (e.g. venue rental, equipment, catering) and include taxes and other added fees.
2. Terms for cancellation
It’s possible that a client will pull out midway through the event planning process. What do you do if you’ve already planned some of the event?
In this case, your contract can protect you from monetary loss. Note that all payments that you received before the cancellation are non-refundable.
Also, state that clients are responsible for event costs made since the last payment. This way, if the last payment was the initial deposit, then you’ll be compensated for all the work you’ve done since then.
3. Cancellation-by-you clause
Clients backing out midway is not uncommon. But what if it’s you, the event planner, who wants to opt out? It happens — maybe you get a last-minute request from a higher-profile client, a vendor you hired backed out, you face an unexpected health emergency. This type of clause is common in the hospitality industry and is known as a cancellation-by-hotel clause.
In the event planning contract, include the scenarios that allow you to opt out. However, you also need to include provisions for the client you’re backing out on. This may include finding the client another third-party planner or reimbursing the client for the initial deposit.
4. Termination clause
A termination clause should not be confused with the terms of cancellation. Termination pertains to cancellation due to unforeseeable events that are beyond either party’s control
This may include weather-related incidents, a government shutdown, or another disaster. A termination clause outlines the scenarios where neither party can be held liable. Of course, these scenarios are highly unlikely, but crazy things can happen out of the blue! You need to protect yourself in your contract.
5. Indemnification clause
An indemnification clause protects you from liability if you’re sued by a third-party due to negligence on the client’s end. If an attendee is injured, for example, the clause ensures that the attendee cannot hold you legally responsible. Another example is damage to the venue. In this case, the venue operators need to hold the client responsible, not you.
6. Photo release clause
This clause isn’t essential, but it’s helpful if you want to use photos of the event to promote your business. A photo release clause in your event planning contract gives you permission to use and edit photos taken during the event for promotional purposes.
This clause is common in wedding planning and photography contracts. Most clients should have no problem with this since it means additional exposure for their own company. Nevertheless, you need to cover it in writing.
An event planner contract is your safety net. Never agree to any work on a verbal-only agreement. This is the case even when working with a loyal client whom you have developed a rapport with. The contract not only protects you financially but also prevents unnecessary disputes that can lead to eroded business relationships.
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Dan McCarthy is an Event Manager at Venueseeker, an event management company based in the UK. Dan has 6 years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events, and currently, he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Follow him on Twitter @DanCarthy2.