In a Post-Pandemic Landscape: Evolving Legal Trends in Event Contracts

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Over the past few years, the landscape of contract negotiations and legal concerns has become increasingly complex. The events industry, in particular, has grappled with painful lessons during the pandemic, dealing with cancellations, postponements, and intricate force majeure negotiations. Consequently, organizations, suppliers, and their legal representatives have grown more cognizant of the potential risks involved in hosting events.

This heightened awareness has spurred a transformation in how organizations approach the entire process of planning, designing, and executing meetings. Adding to the challenge, event planners must also navigate the introduction of new technologies, evolving laws, and regulations. Here are some of the key trends that are shaping the industry:

Safeguarding Data Privacy and Security

The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the European Union in 2018 and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in 2020 marked significant milestones in data protection. Subsequently, several states have followed California’s lead by enacting their own data privacy laws. As a result, event contracts must now include provisions to protect attendee data and ensure compliance with relevant privacy laws. Transparency and responsible data handling throughout the event lifecycle are more crucial than ever.

Adapting to Emerging Technologies

The emergence of new technologies like generative AI has introduced exciting opportunities for improving event design and efficiency. However, these technologies have also brought with them a slew of complex legal, financial, and regulatory considerations. Event planners must engage a multidisciplinary team of advisors to navigate these issues, encompassing areas such as privacy, intellectual property, and financial concerns. Equally important is the consideration of attendee comfort, privacy, and expectations when incorporating these new technologies into events.

Addressing Social and Political Issues

With increasing political divisions and the ongoing commitment of organizations to diversity, equity, and inclusion, event planners often find themselves in situations where they need to host events in locations that may clash with their values or their attendees’ sense of safety and belonging. Importantly, these issues may not qualify as force majeure, potentially resulting in penalties and cancellation fees for the organizers. In such cases, crafting effective communication plans with stakeholders is vital, whether it’s a decision to avoid specific destinations or to cancel booked meetings. It’s also worth remembering that venues and convention and visitor bureaus typically have little control over local politics, and many employ people from diverse backgrounds who might be affected by the legislation in question. Instead of cancellation, numerous organizations are exploring alternative ways to uphold their values and support local communities.

Embracing Sustainability

As organizations intensify their focus on sustainability and make commitments to reduce their carbon footprints, they are increasingly expecting these priorities to be reflected in their events. While many organizations are still in the initial stages of collecting data and establishing metrics related to the environmental impact of business travel and events, the future is likely to witness more robust targets and commitments integrated into event contracts. In some instances, organizations may even seek to impose penalties for failing to meet certain sustainability metrics or to cancel meetings that do not align with sustainability goals.

The post-pandemic environment has ushered in a new era of legal considerations for event contracts, emphasizing data privacy, emerging technologies, social and political factors, and sustainability. Event planners must adeptly navigate these complex issues while ensuring that their events align with evolving legal and ethical standards.

MEET

For 20+ years, the MEET family of products have provided regional and national resources that have kept corporate, association, medical, education, independent, and religious meeting and event planners informed about relevant vendors, industry news, tech innovations, and resources that impact and influence how and where they plan their group business.

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