What should your event Service Level Agreements contain?

Service Level Agreements (SLA) aren’t generic, instead, they’re dictated by the specifics of each unique event. Organising a corporate event that requires having all of your ducks in a row. An SLA is one of the most important requirements to ensure that your vendors (caterers, décor providers, and technical providers) deliver on their expected products or services. Without an SLA in place, you run the risk of being held liable for the vendor’s inability to do their job properly. This could range from a shortage of food, to more dire consequences like fire or theft. Not only will you be financially liable, but legally liable too – and in the event of a disaster or non-delivery of a service, this can have grave consequences for your clients and your reputation.

It’s all well and good to be aware that you need an SLA, but knowing how to go about drawing one up can be a whole other kettle of fish.

All SLAs are drawn up around a standard template, consisting of six section that detail the nature of services required, the timeframe they’re expected to be delivered within, and the consequences of a service provider’s failure to do so. While this main outline remains fixed regardless of the type of event and services required, the information contained therein will differ.

All SLAs contain six sections, namely:

1.Agreement Overview
Details the two parties entering into a Service Level Agreement (SLA), the nature of service required and the period of time the agreement is valid for. For example, “This document represents a SLA between The RSVP Agency and Vendor X for the provision of catering for Brand Y’s Annual Golf Day.

2. Goals & Objectives
This section of an SLA states that the objective of the SLA is to ensure that both parties are in mutual agreement of the services required, as well as their individual responsibilities.

3. Stakeholders
Details the stakeholders entering into a Service Level Agreement. In the case of a corporate event, this would be the corporate event planner or company, and the vendor or vendors in question.

4. Periodic Review
This section details the agreed upon dates that the services rendered will be reviewed. This could be just before the event starts, as well as the day after. The onus falls on the event planner or company to perform this review.

5. Service Agreement
This is undoubtedly the most important section of an SLA, detailing:

  • The scope of work required (for example, technical set up to be completed by XXX)
  • Customer requirements (i.e.: the events company – payment of services and reasonable availability during the time the services are to be rendered.)

Service provider requirements (for example, to meeting deadlines set out in the SLA, as well as sufficient communication with the event planner for the duration of the event)

Service assumptions (this states that any changes to the services required will be efficiently communicated to the vendor).

6.Service Management
The last section of an SLA covers:

Service Availability – This details the times the vendor needs to be available, and specifies the methods of communication they will use to keep in touch with the events company or planner, as well as their required location at specific times.

For example, if an SLA is between you and a Health and Safety officer, this section will state that they need to be on-site at such and such a time, as well as the times that their services will be required off-site, and the channels of communication they need to use (ie: cell phone or email)

Service Requests – This details the time-frames that the service provider is expected to respond to service-related queries or incidents.

In the case of a Health and Safety Office, this could be within 10 minutes in the case of an emergency, or within 24 hrs in the case of a post-event breakdown.

Every single event comes with its own challenges, which means that an SLA should detail any and all eventualities that could possibly occur during the event.

If you’re holding a Gala Dinner at a five-star hotel, for example, you wouldn’t require a health and safety inspection, nor would you require the services of a caterer. If you’re holding an event in an remote area that requires transporting guests to the venue, you’ll need to use a shuttle service, whose SLA will detail aspects such as insurance, emergency procedures and driver authentication.

Without an SLA in place between you and all of your service providers, you’re skating on thin ice.

We recently held an event in the middle of the bush. At the end of the evening, our décor provider was supposed to come back on-site and extinguish all the lanterns and candles. However, upon waking, we were contacted by the venue to say that all of the lanterns were still alight – in the middle of a game reserve! This situation could have been incredibly disastrous had a fire broken out. Not only would we have been responsible for the damage cause to the venue, but for the loss of life of any wildlife too. This close shave highlights the fact that having a water-tight, exhaustive SLA in place is non-negotiable.

Image Credit: Inspiring Woman