Two leading international meeting industry associations, the International Congress and Convention Association and the International Association of Congress Centres, have released a document, “Contracting with Major Congress and Convention Venues,” outlining the basics of international meeting venue contracts.

Specifically designed for organizations that meet internationally and venues that accommodate international programs, the document is a revision of an earlier joint IACC/AIPC guide to contracts. “It is recognized that differing legal systems, business cultures, and customs dictate that there can never be a single version of a contract that would be applicable worldwide,” the two organizations stated in a press release, “but this guide provides a starting point to understanding the main topics that should be addressed in any contract.”

Lost in Translation?
One of the most important sections of any international contract, the new document states, is the “definitions” section. Even when two destinations share a common language—the United States and the United Kingdom, for example—it is by no means certain that the same meeting industry words are used. Along the same lines, international meeting planners must be aware that, if the contract is translated into more than one language, the contracts must specify which language version is legally binding.

The guide offers brief discussions of each of the following contract elements, which it states are most likely to be found in the contracts of major meeting venues around the world:

1. Preamble
2. Definitions
3. Summary of Activities
4. Summary of Costs
5. Inclusions and Exclusions
6. Ancillary Charges
7. F&B/Catering
8. Payments
9. Cancellations
10. Insurance
11. Indemnification
12. Client/Lessee Obligations
13. Disputes
14. Prevailing Contract Version
15. Amendments
16. Economic Condition of the Lessee
17. Transfer or Sublease

Not only do ICCA and AIPC recognize that one contract can never fit all meetings, the guide also notes that “increasingly, contracts for major events are a starting point for further negotiation—a roadmap for the way forward. Due to the long-term nature of international event planning, in particular, it is inevitable that requirements will be refined or changed as preparation proceeds.”

The Accepted Practices Exchange project of the Convention Industry Council was one of the resources tapped by the joint task force that created the new guide. Its authors suggest the APEX Web site as an even more comprehensive resource for contract information.