August 2015 Continued eNewsletter Content
WPA Board of Directors & Goals
With the Western Publishing Association (WPA) board elections finally behind us, I wanted to take a minute to introduce the new WPA leadership, our board of directors and share some goals we have put in place to help enhance your membership experience.
First, the new WPA board leadership. I’ll be your WPA President for the next two years and I’m honored to have an opportunity to help push the WPA ever-forward. I’ve been working in media since my first freelance writing assignment for a local weekly while in high school in New Jersey, and currently serve as the Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Sports & Entertainment Network for TEN: The Enthusiast Network. TEN is a Los Angeles-based media company (www.enthusiastnetwork). I’ve been on the WPA board since 2010. Our new Vice President is Jennifer Hamilton, who is the Advertising Sales Director at Oracle and has been on the WPA board for 2 years. John Brooks continues as our Treasurer/Secretary and his real job is Director of Marketing Services for BPA Worldwide.
Trend Offset Printing; Chris Schulz, President & Publisher, Orange Coast magazine; Jeff Tade, VP, Production & Creative Services, UBM Canon and Catherine Upton, CEO, B2B Media Co., Group Publisher, Elearning! Media Group & B2B Media Company.
This team works directly with our terrific Executive Director, Jane Silbering, who continues to lead and manage this organization expertly.
I wish to extend a hearty thanks to our out-going President, Ron Epstein (President and Publisher, LA Parent), who guided the WPA for the past four years. He has immediately left the country to live in a yurt in Estonia to solve all of modern media’s problems. OK, not really; luckily we’ll have him right here in the greater Los Angeles area to continue working with us as we aim to grow the WPA. I also want to acknowledge the tremendous efforts and contributions of former Vice President Reiva Lesonsky, who has long been an advocate for the WPA and continues to serve on our board.
As media continues to rapidly evolve, it’s important that we do, too. So, in the coming months we’ll be sharing specific goals and plans for the WPA so that it can serve you better, providing more tools, insights and capabilities to help you advance your businesses. I invite you to send me, Jennifer, Jane or any of the other board members an email detailing any ideas you have that would help make the WPA more valuable to you or ideas on ways we can grow it. You can reach us at BOD@wpa-online.org.
Much more to come. Thanks for your support of the WPA.
Norb Garrett, WPA President
Contract Negotiations: Planners’ Favorite Clauses
With permission from Smart Meetings
July 24, 2015
While some meeting professionals relish contract negotiations, others would rather be held captive on a runway in a sweltering Boeing 737 with a crying baby on board. To make the contract negotiation process less daunting, we asked planners to share the clauses they feel should be included in any negotiation. Here are five to consider.
1. Management-Change Clause
It can be both worrisome and challenging to deal with a property in the midst of an ownership or management change. To that end, many planners now ask for a clause in contracts to either cancel the meeting or allow for a renegotiation if such a change occurs.Jill Roth, CMP, owner of Jill Roth Events, says a management company she signed a contract with was replaced by another company overnight just four months prior to a meeting she held earlier this year. “These kinds of rapid changes can greatly impact groups,” she says. “I will now request a clause that permits a group to cancel or alter the agreement if there is a management company change that creates any lack of trust or confidence in the delivery of the original contracted program.”
A related item to consider is a renovation or construction clause to protect you in case of unscheduled or unknown work at the hotel.
2. Cancellation-by-Hotel Clause
All hotels include a cancellation clause, but nearly all of them are meant to protect the hotel. What if a hotel decides to cancel on you?
“One of my most important contract negotiation clauses is ‘cancellation by hotel,'” says Stacy Weber, CMP, meeting and procurement manager at Moss Adams LLP. She has language that states that if the hotel cancels on her, it is obligated to help find an alternate and comparable location and pay any difference in cost, including additional transportation. Some hotels balk or say they would never cancel on her. But that changes when she says, “If they would never cancel on me, then I, of course, would never cancel on them either, so let’s take out any cancellation penalties altogether.” So far, Weber has had no takers on that proposition, and the clause has helped her when a hotel attempted to bump her group for a bigger piece of business and another venue went under renovation.
Some planners also add a clause that states cancellation fees are based on lost profit, not lost revenue.
3. Meeting-Room-Change Clause
Planners who don’t currently use a clause like this will want to soon during contract negotiations. Few issues are as troublesome as not having the space needed for a meeting.
“There is one clause in particular that I will not sign a hotel contract without, and which has saved me from potential meeting-space disasters,” says Darcie Smith, annual conference coordinator at the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). “This clause is a simple sentence that reads, ‘Meeting rooms will not be changed unless approved in writing by client.'”
Smith also tends to cross out any language in contract negotiations affecting a change in meeting rooms, especially phrases such as, “Meeting space is subject to change without notice.” For Smith, this is a deal breaker.
4. Rebook Clause
When Ann Lohry Smith, CMP, meeting management specialist at Association Management Ltd., worked for a large corporation planning several hundred training events a year, she required that her venues agree to a cancellation rebook clause. It stated that if, for any reason, she needed to cancel or postpone, she could rebook for another time within one year and that any cancellation fee would be credited toward the rebooking.
“Working for a very large national employer, it wasn’t too difficult to negotiate this into the contracts,” she says. “The venues and hotels we worked with valued our partnership and recognized it could mean many more future bookings.”
5. Banquet-Gratuities Clause
This language essentially states that the group has the right to question the service charge with the banquet manager or director of catering in contract negotiations. “Most of us have heard these horror stories of loud or noisy service people, out-and-out bad service, or food delivered so slow it was cold,” says Jean Travers, manager of global accounts for HelmsBriscoe, who began adding this clause years ago. “This just gives the planner a contractual leg to stand on. Also, the clause is presented at the pre-con, so the director of catering and banquet manager are aware that their service staff better step up.” Another inclusion in this clause: F&B prices will be guaranteed 90 days prior to the event.
Besides these clauses, planners suggest including wording that forbids miscellaneous fees and charges without client approval, and that allows for the use of outside A/V vendors.
Not everyone has must-include clauses in contract negotiations. “Contracts are specific to the type of program it is, the risk associated with the contract and the money invested in the meeting,” says Irene Saulsbery, CMP, meeting planner with the New York State Association of Realtors. Saulsbery says her most effective tip is to adopt a partnership stance, understanding that both parties have goals to reach. Her walk-away moment comes when a hotel is not flexible or if the terms are not in line with the local market.
“While not afraid of a spirited contract negotiation, I recognize the contract has to meet the needs of both the hotel and the group,” she says. “When you are sitting across a negotiating table, it is better to build bridges than fences.”
Alan L. Kleinfeld is a journalist who has been in the meetings industry for 20 years. He is an association management consultant and adjunct professor in hospitality management.