A Proposal is NOT a Contract!

Please note: this blog post is not a solicitation of services. Please do not write in the comments or to me directly about your company and/or the services you provide. This is strictly about how we still, in this industry, don't know the difference between a proposal and a contract.

A client is in need of a company to provide on-site meeting services—bag stuffing, registration staffing, session badge-checking—at their upcoming annual meeting. They solicited proposals, received one of the two they solicited with no response from the other company, both of which were recommended by their convention hotel.* I solicited one other proposal from a company whose owner is active in the industry.

The proposals, like so many from AV companies, decorators, DMCs, and ground transportation providers, say little about well, anything, other than the companies themselves, and for one, the owner, and the other, the sales contact. The fluff is not as extensive as what I have seen in AV and decorator proposals that they, like in this case, call contracts. But there's not the substance that is needed to ensure the expectations and conditions are in sync.

The prices—hourly rates and overall cost—are so different (one is 50% of the other) with neither providing justification for their pricing. In fact, the higher priced one doesn't go as far as the other to provide the qualificiations and screening of the personnel that will work the meeting. 

Neither provides anything about:

  • Attire and how monitored.
  • Supervisor qualifications.
  • Whether the supervisor and other staff will be the same throughout or differ daily.
  • Last minute cancellations by any personnel provided by the company and substitutions.
  • Conditions for transportation, breaks, meals.
  • Alcohol and drug testing.
  • Bonding and insurance.
  • Force majeure conditions for individual staff and for the meeting and services.
  • Indemnification.

Without yet asking (that's in process), I know I will be told what I've been told from transporation companies, DMCs, registration companies, and many other industry providers, including hotels about their contracts: "no one's ever asked those questions" and "everyone signs" these documents! And I'll wonder like I always do, who in the heck [it's a professional publication!] isn't asking and who is signing?

I've worked in this industry for more than 40 years. After questioning and teaching and learning, find we still do it the same way which is to say, incompletely. It's a wonder there aren't more lawsuits resulting from a lack of understanding of what the arrangements really are and what conditions apply. Why is our industry so sloppy and so willing to settle?

* When I emailed someone at the hotel to find out if there were other companies they recommended, I was told that the two my client contacted were the only ones they recommended and that, well, they really didn't know much about them.

Ahem...I know you're waiting for Part 2 of the industry education blog series...and it's coming. It's just that other interesting things keep happening!

Posted by Joan L. Eisenstodt

Follow Joan on Twitter: @joaneisenstodt

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