ECN 6th Annual Workshop - Contract Negotiation: Keys to a Successful Contract


Do you have what it takes to negotiate a contract with a vendor? Do you think that you have to settle for the original proposal when planning a meeting or event? These questions provided the basis of the workshop session on contract negotiation. Yolonda Cameron from the Office of Legal Affairs provided a legally oriented perspective while Georgia Tech Professional Education's Catherine Shaw approached the presentation from a meeting planner perspective. This lively presentation, role-playing skit, and discussion provided attendees with key points to keep in mind when negotiating a “win-win” contract.

Legal contract negotiation tips

  • Review a contract with an eye toward any terms that might be problematic.
  • Departments are not legal entities - contracts should be between Georgia Institute of Technology and the vendor.
  • Unless specifically granted signature authority by the president of Georgia Tech, we cannot sign contracts. Doing so might leave you personally liable for the terms of that contract if there is a breach.

Event planning contract negotiation tips

  • Negotiate all contacts, not just those for hotels.
  • When negotiating, leverage dates and flexibility of dates and think from the vendor's perspective of how you can give to get and make everyone happy. 
  • Be prepared to negotiate, realizing that you may not get 100 percent of what you want but you may end up with a perk that was not in your original plan.
  • Come to the table with research done in advance – research on your budget, the venue, the venue’s bottom line, and even the venue’s competition.

Additional resources

The Q&A portion of the session reinforced the need for follow-up on this topic, specifically around creating a “how-to” reference document for meeting planners. Some of the questions asked were:

  • What happens if I sign a contract?
  • Is there room for negotiating with internal vendors?
  • How do you negotiate with vendors in foreign countries, particularly around the governing law clause?

Both speakers reinforced the importance of asking questions and utilizing your campus contacts to make the best decisions for your department and for Georgia Tech. 

For more information, contact Yolonda Cameron or Catherine Shaw.