Playing by the Rulebook



Avoid event planning’s most common traps by exercising caution with each logistic you set into play and every agreement you need to make it happen. Even for sport event planning veterans, negotiating the legalese that surrounds many a detail can present a slippery slope.

Tourism Toronto has the inside scoop on event preparations and what’s normal in the vendor contract expectations of our industry membership. We are happy to guide you through the experience.

Before you begin, here are a few areas where paying extra close attention to the ground rules will help reduce risks:

Full coverage: Less is not more when it comes to ensuring adequate insurance for your sports event and activities. Your insurance broker can lead you through the necessities. Commercial General Liability is usually the basic requirement that covers your event for bodily injury and property damage to a third party. Extend that to reduce liquor liability with Party Alcohol and Event insurance. Obtain proof of insurance coverage from all suppliers including caterers, venue and special fx firms.

Contract negotiations: Before signing, read accommodation, venue rentals and supplier contracts word for word – have a lawyer do the same if need be. Be absolutely clear on the fine print. Pay special attention to attrition clauses – penalties for failure to use all rooms reserved– indemnification wording around damage responsibilities, and cancellation fees and clauses.

Control the no controls: Be more than acquainted with the term force majeure, a contract provision that addresses cancellation due to major unforeseen events outside of everyone’s control such as a natural disaster, military emergency or failure of third-party suppliers to fulfill obligations. It is important to detail all specific examples of circumstances that will release responsibility.

Proprietary protection: Ensure the security and confidentiality of customer lists, marketing strategies and business data in both your hands and through other vendor channels. Don’t overstep copyright laws: get written permission from speakers, entertainment and even attendees, to use photo images, intellectual property and information. To avoid creative ideas slipping from your event plans into public domain for replicating, include a Proprietary Agreement with every written proposal.

Know the limit: Legal drinking age in Toronto is 19. If serving alcohol at your event, lower your legal liability for the safety and sobriety of guests by preventing guests from overindulging. Promote “safe” travel via shuttle bus, public transit and taxicabs. Inquire whether staff at the venue or third-party liquor services you’ve hired have completed the provincially recognized server intervention program. Arrange Party Alcohol and Event insurance or confirm coverage under your contracted services.

Be prepared: Create a formal contingency plan that addresses all the what ifs of event crisis including first aid services, the venue’s emergency procedures, security risks and worst-case scenario protocols. Review the plan and how they should respond with all event staff and on-site suppliers.

Taking the extra time to dot your I’s and cross your T’s will eliminate unnecessary (and costly) risk and ensure your next sporting event is a success.

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