CLAUSE: Keep Them Away

“Hotel will not allow any group that is incompatible with Group to book any function space or suites in Hotel over Group's meeting dates. Hotel acknowledges that “incompatible” groups include companies or organizations whose business concerns X and/or who may attract attendees or exhibitors from the same area of business. Should any “incompatible” group seek to book function space or suites in the Hotel during Group's meeting dates, Hotel will inform Group and grant the first right of refusal on all function space and suites to Group.”

EFFECT: Narrow It Down

This clause seeks to have the hotel turn away business, so it is important that the clause be both necessary and narrowly construed. This type of clause might be important for groups or organizations that need to protect a competitive advantage or trade secrets. For example, if Group A is holding a corporate meeting to discuss the development of a new drug, they do not want Group B's employees or managers around to overhear their corporate strategies or product details. This type of clause might also be important for a group whose core purposes or programming is in direct conflict with another group. For example, if Group A is an animal rights group and Group B has members who do live animal testing, there could be a serious and volatile conflict if the groups are meeting in the same facility.

The conflicting-group issue should be negotiated as part of the contract. The parties to the contract need to be very clear about how “incompatible” groups are defined. By putting this language in the contract, the hotel has an affirmative responsibility to understand the nature of other groups requesting meeting space. Likewise, depending on the nature of the contract clause, the group may need to be prepared to pay for additional function space or suites to compensate the hotel for the business it is being asked to turn away.

Tyra W. Hilliard, Esq., CMP ( is an industry lawyer and assistant professor of event and meeting management at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

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