Legal 101 Dunn Deal: Spring Cleaning Your RFP

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Article by Barbara F. Dunn O’Neal, Esq. Partner: Barnes & Thornburg LLP

It’s that time of year for Spring cleaning. And while most of us should be tackling cleaning out our closets or basements, one often overlooked document for cleaning is the request for proposal (RFP) document organizations distribute for their meetings and events. If you have been guilty of not reviewing and updating your RFP in a long time, now is the perfect time to tackle that task! The RFP is the ideal vehicle for organizations to communicate not only their room, function space and food and beverage requirements but also their “wish lists” and contract requirements. Following is a summary of trend and considerations for organizations as they tackle the task of cleaning their RFP:

Background and History
− Details as to the type of meeting, tentative schedule and a description of the people who will be attending the meeting
− History of hotels where the meeting has been held and corresponding data as to room block utilization, food and beverage revenue and ancillary spending

Room Block
− Summary of room types needed including percentages of singles and doubles as well as suites
− Detail as to number of government rated rooms needed
− Requirements for the organization’s right to increase or to decrease the room block
− For resorts, detail room type by location and/or view

Room Rates

− Information as to whether the rates need to be net, non-commissionable or commissionable − Details as to whether a rebate needs to be added to the room rate
− Commitment that the hotel shall not offer (or at least publicize) lower rates over the blocked dates
− Requirements for pre/post rates

Reservations
− Detail reservations process
− Individual room cancellation policy requirements
− Method of managing any walk situation including requirement to provide alternate equal or better accommodations at nearby hotels and transportation to and from the hotel

Concessions
− Complimentary rooms and suites
− Complimentary upgrades to suites
− Complimentary rooms ration (e.g., 1:40) and right to utilize earned but unused complimentary rooms as a credit to the organization’s master account
− Discounts on food and beverage
− Discounts on use of in-house audio-visual provider
− Complimentary internet in guestrooms
− Complimentary access to fitness center
− Credit to master account based on a percentage of total master account spend

Room Block Attrition
− Specify percentage of minimum room block pickup (e.g., 75% of contracted room block)
− Detail how attrition fee will be calculated (e.g., use of lost profit vs. full room rate)
− Requirement for organization to get credit for resold rooms
− Right to review information and documentation upon the billing of any attrition fee to verify the calculation of any fee due

Function Space
− Detail room and set up requirements
− Requirement for complimentary space and set up
− Statement that there shall be no reassignment of function space without the group’s prior written consent
− Specify need for any 24 holds on function space
− Requirement for ensuring no competitor or conflicting groups are utilizing function space during group’s meeting
− Specify right to quiet enjoyment of space and hotel’s obligations to address any related issues

Audio-Visual and Technology
− Audio-visual requirements including use of outside vendors and the group’s own equipment at no additional charge;
− Detail technology requirements in function space including number of users, number of devices as well as required bandwidth and security
− Summary of process to address any technology issues including the group’s right to remediate the problems at hotel’s cost

Cancellation Fee
− Summary of group’s requirements as to cancellation fee being based on a sliding scale and lost profit vs. full room revenue
− Requirement for group to receive credit for resold rooms
− Right for group to rebook another meeting and to receive credit back for cancellation fees.

Rights of Cancellation Without Liability
− Detail of force majeure provision including items on the “grocery list” of bad things which could happen (e.g., Acts of God, fire, war, terror, transportation interruptions) as well as the standard of impact (e.g., commercially impracticable vs. impossible)
− Summary of other rights of cancellation without liability including construction/renovation, change in hotel management company, and reduction in hotel facilities or services

Liability
− Requirements for indemnification provision protecting the group against the negligence of hotel, its employees and contractors
− Obligation on the hotel to provide group with detail of its insurance arrangements.

Compliance with Laws
− Summary of each party’s obligations under the Americans With Disabilities Act including hotel’s obligation as it relates to compliance in guest rooms and public areas and group’s obligations as to programming in function space
− Requirement of hotel providing verification of its compliance with local fire, safety and health department codes

So as you are dusting off and updating your group’s RFP, consider the key items noted above and including them in your group’s “clean” RFP. Remember, in negotiations, if you don’t ask, you don’t get so use the RFP to communicate all items you are seeking in your group’s next contract.

Barbara F. Dunn O’Neal is a partner in the Chicago office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP and is a member of the firm’s Corporate Department and Associations and Foundations Practice Group. Barbara can be reached at (312) 214-4837 or barbara.dunn@btlaw.com. This article should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation. ©Copyright 2013. Barbara F. Dunn, Esq., Partner, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, Atlanta, Chicago, Delaware, Indiana, Los Angeles, Michigan, Minneapolis, Ohio and Washington DC. All rights reserved under both Pan-American and international copyright conventions. No reproduction of any part may be made without the prior written consent of the copyright holder.
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About the author

Joe Clote

Joseph W. Clote is owner of Publishing Concepts, LLC a communications and marketing firm based in Saint Louis, Missouri. Mr. Clote is Group Publisher of MeetMed™ and Missouri Meetings & Events™ (MM&E) magazine, a quarterly publication read by thousands of meeting and event professionals, and producer of the St. Louis and Kansas City trade shows under the MM&E name. Mr. Clote has extensive sales and marketing expertise in the travel, tourism, fine art, insurance, and software development industries.