Event Contracts and Risks: Professor Bernard Toliver
May 3, 2019
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The following interview was conducted by Tisch Center student worker, Haley Park.

What is your background?

I have been a member of the adjunct faculty for 10 years, teaching a variety of courses in meeting and event management, special events, event marketing, and more. The experience has been enriching. When I’m not in the classroom, I own an event management firm, producing events for as few as 30-attendees to more than 1,500 attendees. Clients come to me for a variety of services, including, sponsorship and exhibit sales and fundraising.

Why is it important that hospitality and event professionals have a working knowledge of event contracts and risks?

As the event producer it is important that you understand the risks associated with the event. There are risks at every stage – the contract, vendor partners, venue, location, and so on.  Hospitality and event professionals need a foundation in contracts and risk management, so they may negotiate effectively on behalf of their organization while identifying and minimizing the risks associated with the event. In the beginning it can be a daunting process, but once you begin to understand that each contract, each event is unique, you can then apply principles and concepts and design a plan based on event type, it becomes less daunting.

Can you share examples of events that have faced challenges with risk management?  What form do these challenges typically take?

Honestly, all events face challenges with risk management. Too often, we focus on the big risks – hurricane, terrorism. However, if your event features a prominent speaker and that person cancels at the last minute, the impact on your event could be significant. This is why identifying and determining risk based on event type, location, is important. A cookie-cutter approach rarely works.

What are the learning objectives of the course that you teach?

Students will learn how to identify and evaluate risks associated with meetings and events, will apply the Four Disciplines of Emergency Management, analyze risks and create a plan for coping with a crisis. They will create protocols for alcohol, outdoor events, safety and security, and will review the contractual implications of planning meetings and events.

What do you hope students take away from your course?

I want students to embrace risk management and not fear it. We are not the experts; we are not first-responders; however, if we are able to work with the venue to develop an emergency response plan and share important information with first-responders and vendor partners in the event of an emergency while keeping our attendees and guests safe, we have accomplished our goal.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

This is an exciting time be in the hospitality and events industry.  Events, by nature and design, are experiential. Meeting and event producers are at the forefront of what’s to come in our industry. What a great time to be an event producer!