Big Event Fail: A Contract Mistake


Samantha Able

An event contract is like the holy grail of any event. It holds every little detail event planners need in order to ensure their client receives exactly what they requested. The client also looks at the contract in this light, making sure that the venue isn’t missing out on anything they’d planned for their event.

Mistakes happen though, and sometimes a small error in the contract can lead to bigger chaos down the line. Samantha Able, Director of Corporate & Private Events at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse, shares her story about how she handled a contract error and was still able to ensure both parties were satisfied.

“After speaking with a client about the details for her event, I sent out a contract that included our full open bar, as well as beer and wine. I did not realize this until later on, but the client had only requested beer and wine for the event, so I had included liquor on the contract as if it were an added bonus for a cheap price. In hindsight, I realize that the open bar must have been left on the contract after discussing cheaper pricing options as we had, but in the end, the client chose to only offer beer and wine. It was not until months later when the client asked me what liquors were included in the consumption tab, that I saw my error. I told the client that liquor was not included in her package, but then she called me upset saying that the contract stated otherwise, which it did.

“I was now in a tough situation to honor the contract, but also maintain correct costs for my restaurant. To handle the error, I honored the liquor pricing and included the liquor because that is what I wrote on the contract. My team and I decided to start the event with trays of wine to push beer and wine more than liquor to cover our costs. It actually worked pretty well!

“The guest was happy that I honored what I had written, but she understood that in the future I would have to correct the package or pricing. The event was a huge success all around! After this event fail, I learned how important it is to re-read contracts over a million times before I send them. If I have to make any revisions to the contract, I must make sure it is done properly before sending off the final contract. I never made that same mistake again!”

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Read past Big Event Fail posts on the Tripleseat blog. And our EventCamp videos feature some of the top experts in events, restaurants, venues, hospitality and marketing. Check out the sessions on our EventCamp website – click Sessions on the top of the page to access the videos.