Four Issues to Consider When Negotiating Event Contracts Amid COVID-19

As part of the unraveling of event programming this year, and beyond, marketers have had to dig into their contracts to determine what they’re on the hook for, what they’re not, and how to move forward. And when events do ramp back up the legal landscape will be a trickier one to navigate. We tapped two legal experts for insights on the top legal issues facing conference and experiential marketers as teams power down and power up event programming in the wake of COVID-19.

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The reality is, many existing event contracts, especially those contracts already signed for 2021 and beyond, will probably need to be renegotiated. Typically, a renegotiation means one party is asking to breach the contract and both parties have to decide whether there should be damages paid for that breach.

But the pandemic has created a “rare” situation where valid contracts may not be enforceable as they were originally written since the terms have changed—there will be fewer people at the event, and those fewer people are going to cost more money, according to attorney Steven A. Adelman, vp of the Event Safety Alliance.

There will also be a number of factors within the contracts to renegotiate. Food and beverage, for example, is probably not going to look the same. It will require more space to serve fewer people, but food and beverage vendors will be working at the same level due to enhanced safety guidelines. As Adelman puts it, “There is a tension between what the law allows versus what business continuity is going to require.”

“The law allows you to insist on performance of a valid contract. The necessity of business continuity requires that people negotiate in good faith, because everyone is subject to a new reality,” he says.


Scores of legal experts have rendered opinions on the application of force majeure—“superior force”—in the wake of COVID-19 and what it means for event organizations and their shows. And if your contract includes a force majeure clause, it allows parties to breach the terms of a contract because of unforeseen “Acts of God.” Unforeseen being the key word. Typically, this might include natural disasters or acts of war.

Some contracts list specific events the parties agree would trigger force majeure, like public health emergencies. Others are more ambiguous. Even without a specific force majeure clause, most event contracts include a provision on “unforeseeable events beyond the parties’ reasonable control,” which in the case of the pandemic might include the impact of not only a communicable disease, but travel bans and citywide shelter-in-place orders.

Ultimately, it’s up to courts to decide whether what was included in the contract holds up to this kind of declaration. Whether a pandemic or a public health emergency in a post-COVID world will be classified in the eyes of the court as “unforeseeable” going forward is to be seen.


You’ll need to brush up on your understanding of tort law to determine liability, and whether you could face lawsuits from attendees or staff should they contract COVID-19 after attending your event. In fact, Sen. Mitch McConnell has led a proposal to overhaul tort law amid the pandemic to protect venues and employers from lawsuits. But experts say the issue may not need legislating, because it will be hard for a plaintiff to prove all of the elements of tort law—among them, duty of care.

“Every venue, workplace, wherever, has to provide premises that are ‘reasonably safe’ under the circumstances,” Adelman says. “And here are the circumstances: we’re dealing with a highly contagious disease, which has inadequate testing, no contact tracing and no vaccine right now.”

The question is how you define what is reasonably safe under the circumstances in a pandemic-impacted world. Cities and states across the country have reopened because it’s an economic necessity. People, potential attendees, may be asymptomatic or live with others who are. They will go to work and grocery shop. They will go out to eat. And at the end of the day, they will have likely come into contact with multiple people and surfaces.

“It is going to be virtually impossible for victims to say they contracted coronavirus [from your event] and not from all of the other places they’ve been to the prior two weeks,” Adelman says. “Almost all of these lawsuits are likely to fail because proximate cause cannot be proven.”

However, it will be up to event organizers to create a “reasonably safe” site, which means following guidance from the CDC, World Health Organization and other groups to maintain high standards of cleanliness and sanitation, so as not to potentially be in breach of duty of care.


In the wake of event cancellations, organizations are digging into their insurance policies to determine what types of coverage their policy provided and what type of loss is “explicitly” excluded. It’s part of the wave of financial reverberations the virus has set off since it took hold in North America. Insurance brokerage firm Willis Re, which advises insurance companies, released information that stated COVID-19-specific claims, including claims for event cancellations, are expected to pay out between $30 billion and $100 billion.

The biggest hurdle organizations face as it pertains to event insurance is when the policy was sold. Many insurance policies sold prior to the middle of January 2020 likely include coverage for event cancellations due to communicable diseases. It’s possible that in the future this coverage will be excluded from new policies or it will require a separate premium, much like what occurred after the SARS outbreak in 2002.

According to Jonathan M. Feigenbaum, a Boston-based attorney specializing in insurance litigation, it’s important that people review and understand what is explicitly excluded from their policies. Typically, ambiguities in insurance policies are “construed in favor of the insured and against the insurance company.” The insurance company has the burden of proof on the applicability of exclusions in coverage.

“Don’t rely on what you read in the press about insurance issues such as force majeure and other insurance exclusions,” Feigenbaum says. “Insurance law is determined by state laws, and that means many different results depending on the state where the policy was issued, in what state loss occurred, and in what state the claim is made.”

Photo courtesy: iStock/erhui1979

The post Four Issues to Consider When Negotiating Event Contracts Amid COVID-19 appeared first on Event Marketer.

Five Tips for Developing a Robust On-site Health Security Plan

When the industry bounces back (and it will), having a solid on-site health security strategy will be paramount. And we’re not just talking about placing some extra hand sanitizer stations around the event footprint and calling it a day. Whether it’s a live experience for two or 2,000, robust policies and procedures will need to be in place to ensure the safety of attendees. To get more perspective, we sat down with Jonathan Spero, M.D., ceo at InHouse Physicians who offered his tips for an effective health security plan in a post-lockdown world.

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1. Implement a Bullet-proof Disinfection Plan

Disinfecting surfaces is a no-brainer when it comes to cleaning protocols, but the method and frequency of disinfection is what matters—and working with the venue is crucial to developing a strategy.

“It’s going to need to be more than just a nightly cleaning that you approve,” says Spero. “You have to sit down with the venue and say you need more details on the cleaning protocol. What disinfectants are you using? Are you just using regular Lysol cleaner, or are you using a disinfectant? Because there’s a difference—one works to kill the virus, one doesn’t… But then the frequency, too. Is nightly cleaning enough? I don’t think so. If you’re in breakout sessions and you’re going in and out of them all day long, and different people are using the different tables, you would want them cleaned more frequently.”

2. Administer Fever Screens

Once upon a time, fever-screening at events was seen as too invasive. In a post-coronavirus world, it will likely become the norm, at least in the short-term. Spero says that even though people can be asymptomatic, the most common symptom is still fever. And with fever screens comes the need for additional staffers.

“When we first start out, especially the events in June, July, August, maybe even September, temperature checks will be really common. And there are logistics around that,” he says. “If you have a thousand people, you need a lot of staff to do those temperature checks and they need to be in personal protective gear if they’re going to get close and personal. You’re going to have to work with a vendor that has access to PPE and infrared thermometers, and it’s not going to be cheap.”

3. Develop a Comprehensive Communications Strategy

Attendees will likely be fearful entering events when they return, and that means a thorough communications plan needs to be intact. Spero even suggests appointing a dedicated COVID-19 communications strategist. Part of that plan will involve creating a system to respond rapidly to attendees’ questions as well as creating extensive frequently asked questions pages.

“And then you have to have some communication strategies in place about what happens if all of a sudden, we send three people to the urgent care and they come back with a COVID diagnosis? What’s our communication strategy then?” he says. “You should be building that communication strategy and the content well before anything like that would happen.”

4. Ensure Access to Professional Medical Care

It may sound obvious, but ensuring attendees have access to medical services needs to be part of a planner’s checklist, Spero says. Whether it’s on-site medical care, a partnership with a local, trusted urgent care organization or even a telemedicine solution, healthcare at events needs to be readily available and easily accessible. And these services will be in high demand.

“Whatever option they choose, there should be the ability to provide medical evaluation for flu-related illnesses. There should be the ability to prescribe medications because not all flu-related illnesses are related to COVID-19,” Spero says. “Testing is really important right now, so the urgent care and on-site medical services can offer rapid COVID testing. But that’s not going to be available via telemedicine.”

5. Create Opportunities for Self-care

The biggest defense against any virus is a healthy immune system, making self-care critical. Incorporating wellness elements into events is one way to help attendees reduce stress and stay healthy.

“It’s probably fair to say that we’re exposed to dozens or maybe even hundreds of viruses when we go to work and we go to the meetings, but we don’t get sick. And why don’t we get sick? It’s because we have this magical immune system that we take for granted. And we abuse it—we go to meetings, we drink at night, we don’t get enough sleep, we don’t take time out to exercise or meditate,” Spero says. “So planners need to say, ‘Hey, you know what, we understand that the biggest defense from COVID is your immune system, so we are going to offer some wellness programming because we want to make sure your immune system is at a level that is necessary to protect you.”

The post Five Tips for Developing a Robust On-site Health Security Plan appeared first on Event Marketer.

182: A Ballerdino Halloweeno (Guilds & Goblins #3)

The Whatventurers (thanks Sam E. for the name suggestions) are back to save their friends from a strange song that seems to be luring them into the mist!

Lessons include: failure can be part of the fun, especially when you’re playing a game with friends; taking time to feel sad can be very healing, and get you ready to feel happy and/or goofy again before you know it.

Join our Patreon to try out Mr. Eric’s Guilds & Goblins game! Plus, get Ad-Free stories, a Shout-Out on the show, bonus audio, a better chance of having your question answered, and more! patreon.com/whatifworld

New Merch available at the Imaginarium! Featuring artwork from Ana Stretcu: whatifworld.threadless.com

Subscribe to What If World wherever you listen: link.chtbl.com/whatifworld. Share questions via Twitter @whatifworldpod, Facebook @whatifworldpodcast, Instagram @whatifworldpodcast, or email whatifworldpodcast@gmail.com

What If World is made by Eric O’Keeffe with help from Karen O’Keeffe. Our theme song is by Craig Martinson and our podcast art is by Jason O’Keefe. Additional songs and sound effects from audioblocks.com. This week’s artwork was put together by Karen O’Keeffe using heroforge.com.

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Events in 2020: Stories of Struggle and Success

The event industry has had a tough go of it this year. Event professionals have all been affected in one way or another by the pandemic, and have experienced different paths to acceptance and recovery. Here, three eventprofs share their stories of struggle and success in 2020. Over the past few months, the event industry […]

The post Events in 2020: Stories of Struggle and Success by Victoria Copans appeared first on https://www.eventmanagerblog.com

Megalodon’t Mess with this Monster!

When you think of the most ferocious and terrifying predators to roam the seven seas, you might think of the fearsome, 10ft, 2 ton, Great White Shark! But that big fish ain’t nothing compared to the sharks that used to swim around the Pacific 20 million year ago! Say hello to the Megalodon, as Guy and Mindy take the Wow machine out for a very special Shark Week themed adventure!

Sink or Swim, una nueva leyenda de La Llorona

Today’s episode is special guest story from our friends at Girl Tales! It’s written by Monet Hurst-Mendoza, features performances by Jen Anaya, Jacqueline Guillen, Annie Henk, and Benjamin Manno, and is produced by Chad Chenail and executive produced by Rebecca Cunningham.

Girl Tales is a kids’ podcast of feminist fairy tales for a new generation. Damsels in distress or princesses in need of protection? Not on Girl Tales! The girls in these stories take control of their own destinies, turning your favorite fairy tales, fables, and myths into exciting new adventures. If you like this episode, you can find more Girl Tales anywhere you listen to podcasts!

Some more good news! The proceeds of this episode this month will go to supporting The Kilroys, a collective of playwrights, directors, and producers taking action to address gender parity in the performing arts field. Check them out at thekilroys.org!

If you would like to support Stories Podcast, you can subscribe and give us a five star review on iTunes, head to patreon.com/stories and pledge to make a monthly donation, check out our merch at storiespodcast.com/shop, follow us on Instagram @storiespodcast, or just tell your friends about us!

Thank you!!

Boho Lion King Birthday Party

Grub Station from a Boho Lion King Birthday Party on Kara's Party Ideas | KarasPartyIdeas.com (8)

Roar with might and call on the whole pride ’cause this Lion King Birthday Party by Amanda Fenn of Rusty Chic Decor, out of West Chester, is stopping by!

…From the beautifully boho grub station to the cute kid picnic table and more, this event is packed with details to explore!

So shout “Hakuna Matata” and let your worries fly and stroll over these details that are sure to mystify:

  • Safari-inspired Balloon Garland
  • Lion King-inspired Happy Birthday Banner
  • Jungle Safari Table Settings
  • Acrylic Lion King Signage
  • Tassel Ribbon Garlands + Backdrop
  • Lion King Confetti
  • Beautiful Dried Floral Boho Blooms

The post Boho Lion King Birthday Party appeared first on Kara's Party Ideas.