Blog May 2020

Protective Hotel Contract Clauses to Consider 

Negotiating contracts can be stressful – especially when the success of your big event depends on getting the contract right. In a recent webinar provided by the New England Society of Association Executives (NE/SAE), speaker Gabriela Arriso shared these protective clauses to consider adding to your association's event contracts.

  • No Walk / Relocation Clause
  • Integrity & Lowest Room Rate Clause
  • Additional Spend/ Hidden Fees Clause
  • Change of Ownership Clause
  • Rebooking Clause

This article will dive into what these clauses entail, so you can better understand how they can help alleviate some stressors while planning your next large conference event.

No Walk / Relocation Clause

A "walk" is the relocation of a guest with a confirmed reservation to another hotel due to the unavailability of sleeping rooms at the original location at the time they check-in. To make sure your guests can stay at your conference location, make sure your room block is protected with a "No Walk" Clause. Include language in your contract that makes sure your guests can't be "walked" or guarantee you are notified before any of your guests are relocated, so you can make sure your speakers or Board members aren't inconvenienced by a long commute to your conference.

Integrity & Lowest Room Rate Clause

It is important to make sure your guests are getting the best room rate possible for two key reasons: it will make it easier for them to attend your event and it will make it easier for you to fill your room block. So, if the hotel is listing a lower price somewhere else to the public, your attendees may choose to book outside your block. There are a couple of solutions for this. First, you can include a clause limiting the hotel from offering a rate lower than your average daily single/double group rate over your conference dates. If the hotel does publish any lower rates, the hotel may choose to immediately terminate that offer or offer the terms to your attendees on the same basis as offered to the general public. Additionally, you can include language to protect you if your attendees’ book outside of your block inadvertently. A great clause to include allows you to send the hotel your registration list to compare to their in-house guest list. Make sure any attendee for your event is counted towards your room block pick-up, even if they booked out of the official block.

Additional Spend/ Hidden Fees Clause

Require that all fees and charges are clearly identified up front. Protect your organization from fees not expressly listed in the contract, including all taxes and services charges. Contracts are negotiable, and you may be able to eliminate some charges associated with amenities you will not use during your event, just by asking.

Change of Ownership Clause

If your venue has a change in management after your contract is signed, that can create new challenges and complicate your event plans. Because of this, it is wise to ask for a clause to allow for a renegotiation if there is a change in the hotel's ownership or management - with the option of cancellation.

Rebooking Clause

Things happen - if you have to cancel or reschedule your meeting, you want to try to recoup as much of the costs as possible. A good rebooking clause can allow your organization to apply fees paid towards another event at the same location in a designated amount of time. There may be cancellations and other charges associated with rebooking; however, it is always better to discuss your options ahead of time, rather than scrambling when you are in a jam.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, make sure you are asking for exactly what you need for your event to succeed up front. Then, negotiate with the hotel to get the best rates and terms possible. It could even be a good idea to draft an ideal event contract with your organization's legal counsel and use that as a starting point when comparing proposals and contracts.

This blog post is a summary of a recent professional development webinar and is for informational purposes only. McKenna Management, Inc. does not provide legal advice.


Gabrielle (Gaby) Webster, MS is an Association Manager at McKenna Management, Inc. Gaby works with clients to provide premiere service and engaging programs for their members and prospects. Gaby believes in serving her community and is passionate about educating youth.