UNDERESTIMATED: Stephen Barth said that the “huge” issue of alcohol liability “has been around for a long, long time” and must be addressed by planners.
scale of damages owed based on the amount of time between the date of can- cellation and the date of the planned event. A provision should be included in meeting contracts requiring the hotel to undertake all reasonable efforts to resell canceled rooms, event space, and food-and-beverage functions, and credit those revenues against any liquidated damages owed by the organiza- tion.Ahotel should not end up in a better financial position because the organ- ization canceled than it would have if the contract was performed.
What legal issues do meeting and hospitality professionals most commonly overlook or underestimate? Hilliard: Alcohol liability. Most planners assume all of the liability falls to the hotel, restaurant, or caterer, which is mostly true. However, there are actions or inactions that can put all or some of the liability on the meeting planner. I often cringe at meetings when I hear that organizations are still allowing hos- pitality suites or drinking on buses. Social functions are a big part of the “fun” of a meeting, but can so easily get out of hand even if there is just one person whoover-consumes. It can be very awkward to address if that person is aman- ager or executive, but failure to deal with it can be detrimental.
Barth:The potential alcohol liability is still huge. The issue has been around for a long, long time, but you still have to address it.Manypeople don’t realize that martinis started out being served in 2.5-ounce glasses. Today, they’re eight to 10 ounces, and essentially the only thing that goes in is gin or vodka. So you’re serving the equivalent of four to six mixed drinks to a guest, ... and guests usu- ally are not sophisticated enough to know. It can be very dangerous, as most consumers could exceed the .08 [blood-alcohol-level] threshold of intoxication after one drink, and clearly after two drinks, consumed in a normal time frame. Another danger is mixing Red Bull or another energy drink with vodka
or other spirits.Most bartenders are taught to recognize the symptoms of intox- ication—slurred speech, impaired balance.But when you’remixing an energy drink with alcohol, you typically don’t display those symptoms. Guests could consume eight or nine drinks in a few hours and not appear intoxicated. The ideal is to nevermix alcoholwith energy drinks, but people can get ramped up on them before they come to the event.
Foster: Most planners don’t understand what is negotiable in contracts and howto strategically word key provisions. They also don’t understandhowlong it takes to prepare an effective contract. It can’t be done quickly to be effective. The reality is, if you don’t understand the lawandmake it work for you, it will automatically work against you. It’s typical for non-lawyers to believe that a shorter contract is better. The opposite is actually true.Most contract disputes arise over what the parties neglected to cover in the contract. I came up with