Bending the Rules: Venue Contracts
With the steady influx of increased competition in the venue market, it may sometimes seem appealing to bend the rules in order to get a contract. When (if ever) is this okay with venue contracts? And if it’s not, what’s the best way to inform the client without risking their potential business in the future?
We’ve seen this topic come up occasionally throughout social media and we think it’s something worth planning for. Venue contracts are something that have become far less rigid than in the past (or in some rare cases, far more rigid). So, what gives?
What do you mean, “Bend” the Rules?
When planners are seeking out a venue they have a strict set of requirements that they desire. Perhaps they need to block a fire escape for a full-length stage or want an ambiance detail that requires the breaking of a fire code? It’s no surprise to say that some big name clients may provide a little more “push and shove” when it comes to getting ordinance violations overlooked.
When (If Ever) Is it Okay?
Wouldn’t it be ideal to live in a world where there is no grey and there was a straight answer for everything? Maybe? But, unfortunately, that isn’t reality. Negotiations and compromise are required when there is a need for additional revenue.
There is no true answer to this question; however, consider the following options before declining the business or making the break. What are they asking for?
Look at all the possible scenarios of what they’re asking you to do. Is the health, safety, and well-being of the guests being compromised? If the answer is yes, it’s not worth taking the risk to make a couple extra dollars. Codes and ordinances are set in place to protect; they’re not meant to be ignored.
Will it set a precedence? Depending on the request, it might be easy to think “just this once”. However, could that lead to other potential clients backing you into a wall? Avoid playing favorites and letting the bigger clients sway you into doing something against venue contracts policy.
Contact the local municipality. Before declining, talk with your local municipalities to see if there are alternate options in the scenario. Example: the full length stage we mentioned previously. In order to have enough room one of the emergency exits was blocked. The event manager contacted the fire inspector to see if there was anything that could be done. With the addition of extra venue staff in order to direct audience members to alternate exists in the event of an emergency, as well as, staff on the outside of the door to direct emergency personnel, the approval was granted. Depending on the situation, there may be a formal procedure set in place to grant waivers or exemptions.
Weigh it with company values and ethics. Always go with your gut. If something doesn’t feel right or makes you uneasy, it’s not worth the risk. The integrity of your venue rests in the events that you host.
How To Politely Decline
It’s been drilled into our heads since childhood to just say no, but in the business world, a simple no doesn’t get you very far. The explanation doesn’t have to be long but do offer your thought process behind the situation. It’s possible that it’s an aspect the client hadn’t considered and is willing to reevaluate their venue contracts.
There is a significant amount of respect that can be garnered by being transparent; tell them the truth with the hopes that customers will appreciate the honesty. There will likely be instances where your answer isn’t what they want to hear; during those times ask yourself if your business should be doing business with them at all? Those who seek to “bend” rules also tend to “bend” adherence to their own word and agreements. The risk is not worth the reward.
This is all theoretical, of course, and all very situational. We’re curious on your thoughts! Let us know where you stand and if you’ve ever had to deal directly with this situation.