Originally published Meetings Focus.
Originally published Meetings Focus.
Originally published Meetings Focus.
Do you ever feel like you are caught in a time warp?
In discussions among meeting and event planners on social media and face-to-face, there are things being said that have been repeated for as long as I’ve been in the meetings and hospitality industry, which is a very long time!
We use our left brain (logical) and right brain (creative) sides to create budgets, meals, decor, select speakers and develop education. We use both sides of our brain to negotiate contracts worth thousands to multi-millions of dollars.
Our brain is crowded with figures and facts that allow us to communicate all that’s needed to co-workers, committees, management and business partners. And we do not give ourselves credit for the amazing brain power we have and use.
When serving on the ASAE Meetings and Exposition Section Council in the 1980s, the cost of coffee and other items to support meetings was discussed at our meetings.
There was always a request for comparison of what “deals” the rest of us were getting for our meetings. I knew then like I know now that:
a) you can’t compare apples to wrenches because every meeting even at the same property—even your own meetings in different years—may be differently priced.
…and b) too many factors impact costs.
[Related Content: 4 Keys to Greater Success As a Hospitality Professional]
The charges for coffee and the cost of food and beverage were the subjects of the August 2019 Friday with Joan content, which included a blog post and more.
And as long as I’ve been in this industry, and at those Council and other industry meetings where I met with colleagues, the words of the late Rodney Dangerfield (“I don’t get no respect”) have been echoed by planners.
I have frequently said that what we do is more than brain surgery or rocket science because of the complexity of all that goes into planning meetings and events including budgets, content and learning, safety and contingency planning, and so much more.
Despite years of discussion on the topic and various industry association initiatives, we seem to still “get no respect” or at least not the respect we truly deserve.
That being said, I think we are part of the cause of the (perceived?) lack of professional respect for meeting and event planners individually and collectively.
[Related Content: Not Your Elevator Pitch—Your Story!]
Despite the goal of “achieving a seat at the table” that Christine Duffy, then with Maritz and now CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines, made part of her platform as MPI President (2005-2006), and all the work done within our industry to promote the profession—including Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID)—we are clearly “not there” yet.
I think our profession and work are not understood, partly because few are documenting their accomplishments and/or taking credit for what they do.
GMID is celebrating in the industry while externally we’re not known.
To wit: recently written in a social media group of industry professionals:
“What I find frustrating about being an event planner is that on one end of the spectrum you have high-level responsibilities and on the other end of the spectrum you are like a hostess at a restaurant. Does anyone else feel this way?”
[Related Content: Lifelong Learning Is Everyone’s Responsibility!]
It was followed by responses including this:
“I have felt like this for years and yet I wonder if I do it to myself sometimes. I am shy about taking credit and in fact feel uncomfortable when I receive it in a public setting.
“I am also not great at setting boundaries and will do whatever it takes to ensure it is a flawless event. I need to learn how to “toot my own horn” and help others do the same.
“I’m not sure if that will address the perception by some that what a planner does is trivial. There may always be those people who believe that in which it says more about that other person than the planner. I think also learning how to communicate on the level of the CEO, board members, etc., and then consistently doing it helps too.”
To the group and to the person who wrote the response above, I asked: In addition to what you wrote above, why do you think this is? Is it that our profession is, we think, mostly women? Is it because women are taught to be demure and self-effacing?
One response: “Yes, unfortunately, I believe that to be true.
“And also the way men in power see the [role]l. if they don’t understand it, they see it as ‘if I don’t know how to do it, it must not be that difficult.’”
I reached out to Robbie Nance, administrative associate, office of medical education & academic affairs at Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.
I met Mr. Nance in 2018 when I facilitated a class on meeting planning for the American Society of Administrative Professionals, where he was one of few men in a class of more than 125, a percentage that mirrors events for those with titles reflective of meeting and conference responsibilities.
[Related Content: Defining the Meeting Professional]
Curious to see if titles mattered, I asked him what he thought was the level of respect he received from those with whom he worked. An edited version of what he wrote to me:
“I feel respected by my colleagues. I do not feel respected by those in upper management. While they tell me, “You’re more valuable than you know,” and “Without you this office wouldn’t run,” on a daily basis, telling and showing value are two different things.
“I am a male in a typically female-held position.
“But I am also a male in a predominantly male field.
“More and more I feel that the lack of respect I receive is related to my age—I am 30, the youngest in my office with the average age of those I work with in the 50s.”
[Again, this mirrors many who hold titles related to meetings].
I asked Margaret Moynihan, who retired in 2015 from Deloitte & Touche, if I remembered correctly that she had—years ago at an industry meeting—explained her professional success by documenting all she did. She wrote:
“When I began my career at what became Deloitte & Touche in 1975 as a secretary, I was asked to assist with a series of 3 meetings. My responsibilities included registration, proofreading BEOs, checking room sets and communicating to attendees.
“After these meetings I was offered a job in the newly-forming meeting planning group. I made sure I did everything to get the job done even if it was not part of my job description. As time passed, I would document (on a steno pad!) the savings I accomplished meeting by meeting.
“The documented savings included negotiated sleeping room rates, F&B, AV and meeting room rental. I also documented cancellation fee negotiations.
“Once a month I would report these savings to my manager. I prepared a mid-year and annual report. [Emphasis is Joan’s]. If I was quoted in a trade magazine or was asked to be on a panel—this was also part of my report.”
[Margaret was a member of MPI’s Greater New York and WestField Chapters, served on and was honored by the MPI Board and was Chair of the MPI Foundation Board].
“I read every publication that dealt with negotiations and meetings. Soon I became the ‘go to’ person on almost anything to do with a meeting. I learned early that no one was going to ‘toot my horn’ factually better than myself.” [Emphasis Joan’s].
“After meeting negotiations, I moved on to airline, car rental and corporate card—documenting [my progress] every step of the way.
“It was extremely satisfying to document my accomplishments.”
Margaret was rewarded with promotions that reflected her senior role in the organization, retiring as “Director” which was equivalent to “Partner” with the same benefits except the ability to vote on firm issues. When Margaret retired, in the U.S. there were approximately 120,000 employees, 5,000 partners and 1,600 directors.
Robbie Nance also documents his accomplishments albeit not in a steno pad:
“There are a number of ways I make sure they know what I am doing. My office is directly outside my boss’s door—he enters my office to get to his, allowing for constant communication (communication is the key to everything right?). Being a small team, I am ever mindful that if one of us were to get hit by a bus it would be a big deal.
“So I take the approach of trying to include a senior level person from time to time so that someone knows what I do in the event something tragic would happen and I do my best to note steps taken to complete a task in an effort to make a running manual of what to do in the office. I also keep a desk calendar, so that when I am away, anyone can see what I do on my desk without having to access my Outlook calendar.”
Margaret Moynihan and Robbie Nance, with different titles and at different times in our industry, are both examples of those who know their value and who did show and who now continue to show their worth. Why is everyone not doing so? Let’s change things.
1. Record all your accomplishments regardless of how small you think they may be. Saving 50 cents per meal may not sound like much until you add up the savings for a year.
2. Report all you’ve done and compliments received—from dollar savings to compliments from those who attend your meetings for the great education they received.
3. Ask business partners to write to your managers about how you worked ethically and professionally with them, including examples of what you did that exceeded their expectations—from site selection to management on site. Just as we planners write thank you notes, asking for specifics, in writing, from partners will help you gain status.
4. Serve on committees and boards of industry organizations and learn from those experiences. Then document how you have used those experiences to enhance your work. It’s tough to get the time and money to participate professionally.
Showing ROI will promote you and the activities.
5. Be visible in the industry. I always ask for people to interview for articles just as these people were. Be a subject matter expert and a person with knowledge so that you are asked and can volunteer to respond to requests from journalists and bloggers.
Then post the links so others see you.
6. Toot—nah, BLOW—your own horn.
Instead of saying “aw shucks, anyone can do this—it’s not rocket science or brain surgery,” show how you helped 100 or 500 or 10,000+ people learn, travel and stay safe from harm as you created and implemented plans for your meetings and events.
Take what Margaret Moynihan and Robbie Nance said to heart and do as they did (I’m pretty sure, having met Robbie, he too will gain more recognition).
Serendipitously, Jamie Triplin, a published author and strategic communications consultant, posted some excellent words of wisdom right as I was finished writing this blog post. With permission, I post what Jaimie Triplin wrote.
May it serve as a reminder to us all to feel and show our worth:
“Life is too short to walk around feeling unappreciated—personally and professionally. If you truly know your worth, you’ll never have that problem.
“Life should be lived based on the value you place yourself.
“If you feel low, you’ll accept trash behavior from your environment.
“I don’t know about you, but, I’m of high value.”
It is impossible not to think of the people of The Bahamas who have lost everything.
There are many verified organizations to which you can donate to help the people impacted by Hurricane Dorian. We hope that you will, if you have the means to do so.
We all know that a “tourist destination” like The Bahamas is dependent on our support. Just as we helped those in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, we hope you will donate to help others. No matter how much respect we receive, it’s important to be kind.
Originally published Meetings Focus.
In the Grant Snider illustration, “the beloved book,” we are shown the life cycle of a treasured book, perhaps like one of your own—from its yellowed dust jacket, to the inscription by a loved aunt; scribbles in the margins, frayed pages and cracked spine; the old book smell and perhaps a missing page but you still know it by heart and pass it along to another generation.
I prefer print books—the touch and feel, the sense of holding words in my hands. The ability to pass along a beloved book to someone else to love and share then with others.
It continues the cycle of learning and reading.
And I realize that not everyone can read, either at all or in print.
While thinking through this blog’s contents, I wished I could remember, or had a family member to ask, how and when I learned to read.
It must have been a miraculous occurrence. I think it might have been akin to what Beth Cooper-Zobott describes in her responses to my questions to colleagues.
Reading has helped me grow in empathy for others and provided new concepts for use in my work. I remember the joy experienced as I walked to my Dayton, Ohio, library, where I picked up stacks of books to bring home and devour in my attic bedroom.
(Joan’s Note: If you’re interested, “my” library, now empty except for the memories of so many, is for sale. I’ve tried to think how I could buy and renovate it to live in that beautiful building).
I don’t remember the first book I held. I have always written in my books. My friend, Layne, said she never can or would write in a book—that it would be desecrating them.
My margin notes are reminders of what I’m learning or sometimes a thought to pass on. It feels like love to me of the words written and the ideas shared by the authors.
A favorite quite-worn book in a purple silk cover, The Heart of New Thought, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, belonged to my maternal grandmother. It was signed in the front with her maiden name and the year 1907, shortly before she married. My grandmother, Jewish by birth and practice, clearly saw something in this book that touched her.
A cousin of my mother acquired it; her daughter gave it to me.
For her 30th birthday, I gifted it to my oldest niece who I hope will pass it on to her sons, both younger than 10 and readers.
There are lots of reasons to read, and especially, to read books in print.
Many others have written the whys—a simple search of “why read books” will take you to articles like “12 Reasons You Should Read (at Least) 12 Books This Year” and “10 Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Every Day” and many more justifications.
For me, books provide an escape, a way to learn. They provide a look into lives, current and past, real and created, unlike my own, and through reading I increase my empathy for others. The U.S. could do much better at teaching literacy.
As of 2018, roughly 32 million Americans couldn’t read, according to the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy. The Pew Research Center reports on who is reading books and who isn’t. The numbers surprised and saddened me.
Our industry could do a better job of providing suggested reading for each session presented at an industry conference. Imagine the impact of pre-session reading or a list of books, fiction and non- that link to the subject matter for reading later.
Meetings Today has a limited number of suggested books in its bookstore.
Both for personal interest and to prepare for a session on inclusion, I’m reading:
The knowledge gained will add to understanding and to what I hope others can learn about inclusion for the session I’ll facilitate at the Sunshine Education Summit (SES) presented by MPI chapters in August 2019 in Orlando (Additional incentive to attend the session: I’ll give away books, as I often do when presenting to further one’s learning).
The Shape of IDEAS: An Illustrated Exploration of Creativity by Grant Snider (creator of Incidental Comics) is pure delight!
If you are stuck on a problem, pick up this book and open to any page for inspiration—just as I began this blog post with one illustration by the author.
Author Priya Parker’s The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters should be as high on your list to read as Dr. Paul O. Radde’s Seating Matters: State of the Art Seating and Why It Matters. Both books can be a little weighty because they are research-based.
Both are superb to help create better meetings and gatherings of all sorts. In fact, if you want to give a gift to a supplier friend, these two should be among those considered.
Guy Kawasaki’s Wise Guy is his latest book of ideas and life-lessons.
I swear that my receiving a signed copy of the book was illustration of his concepts in Selling the Dream which is all about how to promote your products and companies! The difference? I’d read all of Guy’s other books and would have happily purchased this.
In fact, after I’d read it—and marked it up!—I sent copies to others I thought could benefit from and enjoy Guy’s life, wisdom, and willingness to keep trying new things.
(Joan’s Note: Read more about my connection to Guy and why you too should reach out to the authors you like in my related Q&A where I did just that).
No doubt you’ve heard me say or read how well I think of Daniel H. Pink and especially of one of his early books, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.
In that book, I learned how to better use off-site venues, especially museums, for more than social events (If you’re a podcast listener, try the Pinkcast for more of Dan Pink’s thinking).
Some years ago, I conducted book club-like sessions at various meetings using the book and chapter exercises to help others move their thinking forward.
Today, still, both enter my thinking when working with groups and engaging others in the meeting planning process and the outcome of meetings.
A memoir, three works of relatively recent fiction and one children’s book have stayed with me for many reasons, the greatest of which for me has been honing my empathy for those in other circumstances. We do not choose the circumstances into which we are born.
These four books, among many I’ve read, have become roadmaps, with Blind Spot noted above, for rethinking how I see others and what I believe can be done to support others in their endeavors. For anyone in the meetings and hospitality industries, empathy is a key to listening and moving relationships and conversations forward.
Memoir: My dear aunt Ann sent Educated by Tara Westover, to me. I’ve found that each person who has read this book had a different experience—based, as was mine, I’m sure, on our sense of place and family and circumstances into which we are born.
Ms. Westover’s experiences show the ability to go beyond where we begin.
More, she shows the critical importance of mentors, formal and informal, and the influence of those in our lives who chose to help us overcome obstacles.
Fiction: Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad: A Novel was riveting. I could feel the tension of those traveling and the sense that the underground railroad was in fact a real railroad. Whitehead’s writing allows us to step back in history and realize the sacrifices so many made.
The writing of Thrity Umrigar, interviewed here, was recommended to me by friend, and fellow reader, Donna Brandwein. I’ve now read almost all of Ms. Umrigar’s books.
Two books in particular—The Space Between Us and The Secrets Between Us—impacted me in ways that I find difficult to put into words. Set in India, they could easily be in any place showing how class can separate us as much as education and income can.
It in fact, can define us and define the circumstances in which we live and never leave.
Funny, as I write this blog, tears spring back to me about the lives of the characters and their striving. Beautiful writing that delves deeply into relationships among and between those of different classes and circumstances and shows what we can do to help lift each other.
Children’s book: Malia the Merfairy and the Lucky Rainbow Cake by Jamie A. Triplin creates a world for children and adults where anything is possible. Like Jeff Hurt, I love to read children’s books. Malia made me smile for so many reasons.
[Joan’s Note: I gifted this book to my young friend, Morgan McIntyre (pictured here), who also very much enjoyed it! There’s no better gift than a good book.]
It is delightfully illustrated and teaches lessons about racism that are often missed by all of us. Seeing in a story a princess who looks like, well, not the usual blond, blue-eyed ones too many of us are used to seeing, is like going into a hotel and finding that many different people work behind the front desk, in management as well as in the heart-of-the-house.
It helps us learn what it it’s like to be different in a world where so many look the same.
As the industry again focuses on inclusion, this book is a good way for you to learn what the children in your life already know.
I have lots of favorite authors other than those cited here. Among them:
I’ve often said that if I were to retire, I’d like to “just” read—the stacks of books that surround me, the ones at the library and the ones still to be written.
Except that’s not entirely true: I want to read and find applications for what I read. Sharing these ideas with you is another way of broadening ideas and reading.
You probably saw one or more of the lists of “summer reading” or “beach reading,” perhaps putting some books aside (or on your electronic device) to be read if you are taking a vacation or going to the beach or for a long flight for work or just as a break.
Good books and the authors who write them transport us to new dimensions in such a way that you might even feel you’re at the beach even if you aren’t!
What are you reading and why? It’s not a book club; it is a way for colleagues to share what we love to read and the impact it has on us. Read on!
Originally published Meetings Focus.
Meetings and conferences are not going away. However, many people who are going into our industry are looking for something different to learn and in which to be involved.
We need to expand what is taught in hospitality schools and elsewhere in our industry and to think about components of life events that need professional planners—dare I say “Party Planners” (thank you Debbi Presley for your insights and for founding Party Planners Network)—and the intricacies beyond the usual “rates-dates-space” and décor.
The industry needs to teach skills that are not the usual and include, if one isn’t born with it, how to be empathetic or show empathy and how to ask better questions.
Those of us involved in planning meetings know it all begins with goals and objectives, demographics and budget. It’s the same for life-cycle events.
When planning life-cycle events we need to learn to:
Nowhere are these skills more important than in planning life-cycle events. Though one can certainly see that these would all prove useful in regular meeting planning as well.
The May 3 Friday with Joan newsletter looked specifically at end-of-life events, spurred by this article about celebration-of-life events from The Washington Post and by deaths of three friends and my own personal involvement in planning a life celebration for one.
End-of-life events and other life-cycle events require at least as much planning and care as a meeting or convention. The timeframes may be different; the attendance lesser and the setting more intimate. Still we need to be taught to consider how to help others.
Everything Sharron and others said seem to fit all life events.
We also have to consider if these events are parties.
Or are they celebrations? The definitions are so similar that I found my own biases against the term “party planner” changing.
Even in Judaism, sitting shiva after a death is, in addition to a religious observance, is often a celebration of the person’s life. I always value those times, though with tears frequently shed, we hear stories never told and laugh and eat. Oh, and food!
Always plenty of food which seems to be cross-cultural. Isn’t that a party?
I asked those who teach full-time in hospitality if they had ever considered planning and managing weddings? This confirmed what I’ve found in my own teaching: many who have side businesses and start their own full-time businesses or study hospitality want to do this.
A few ILEA members who provided input for this article said that there are more who are becoming interested in end-of-life events though it is not necessarily their focus.
Instead of just focusing on wedding and “special event” planning, which rarely includes other than weddings, life-cycle events, I think the industry needs to teach more about how to plan more broadly and help students understand all the possibilities for event planning.
Helping someone determine which of these types of events is best for them is tricky.
Before I’m accused of being “politically correct” in discussing this, well, in addition to hating the term “politically correct,” in the hospitality industry it is our responsibility is to know the right questions to ask and terms to use with those for whom we are planning life events.
This article “Gender Party Reveal vs. Baby Shower” describes what could be the same and could be different for “reveals” and “baby showers.” Not addressed here are families of one or two dads who may be the pregnant person nor does it address adoption.
If you’re not familiar with “reveals,” read more here in the guidelines from Parents magazine about “How to Host a Gender Reveal Party” from the perspective of the parent(s).
Planning a party for people who are opting not to declare a gender for their child who prefer their child to determine their identify at a later date requires more thinking.
The term these parents may use is “theybies.”
For those advising what is the best—reveal or baby shower—useful articles included:
For most of us, the first and then the 5s and 0s are often marked by parties, and yet, for those who observe birthdays and want a fuss, any year is worth celebrating.
Each biological or chosen family will form its own traditions.
Sometimes birthdays—especially surprise parties—can be painful events. I always felt awkward opening presents in front of people, pretending great glee when I might not have felt it! As an Introvert—child and adult—it was and sometimes still is exhausting to be around lots of people for any more than an hour.
Parties for me should be limited in scope and numbers.
Know your clients and their preferences. Seek out answers to the personalities and preferences of those for whom a surprise party is thought to be a good idea.
“In my day,” which I write with a chuckle at how old that sounds, we waited until high school before celebrating graduation. For many now, graduation from pre-school, kindergarten and each year of grammar school is celebrated. For many families, graduation is a very special occasion especially if the person graduating is the first in their family to graduate from any school or waited until they were older to return to school and graduate.
Just as there are guidelines for all kinds of parties, our industry needs to teach more about the sensitivities of cultures and graduations. A search turned up many resources of cultural graduations being celebrated. This one was especially interesting.
With a focus on inclusion and diversity, the more we teach and learn the better.
Beyond birthdays, cultures and religions have different celebrations.
In Judaism, there are bat, bar and b’nai mitzvahs, usually at age 13, though as this article from Tablet Mag shows, one can achieve the learning and celebrate at any age.
In Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Central and South American cultures, Quinceañeras are very special occasions for coming of age of young women.
Similar coming-of-age events are held among other cultures.
As our world becomes more diverse in its makeup and more people move about to live or work, our industry could teach “inclusion and diversity” much more broadly than it has so that those learning become familiar with others’ life events.
Planning weddings is still the goal of many who enter hospitality.
Marriage has changed and now there are many specializing in same-gender marriages. Is our industry teaching enough about the language and customs to consider?
Divorce parties? Yes. Touchy ground depending on the circumstances of the divorce and those invited to attend. You can as I did search to find more information.
Why not expose those studying hospitality to all options for parties and events?
A question often asked by colleagues: What’s the best way to honor a retiring CEO, board member, colleague or co-worker? With so many Baby Boomers either choosing to continue working or retiring, it is best to consider the person and the circumstances of their retirement—was it voluntary or forced?—when planning.
This article, simply titled “Retirement Party Ideas,” from U.S. News & World Report was the most thoughtful article I found about how to plan a retirement event.
Mercyhurst University is planning a course that will include end-of-life events and hopes to partner with a funeral home to help this become part of the curriculum.
Read this related article for interviews with Peter Zohos of Mercyhurst University, Andrew Smeltzer of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons and Debbi Presley, founder of Party Planners Network.
And an extra special thanks to Fran Solomon, founder and board member of HealGrief, who helped me with my own grief over the death of friends.
Closing Note From Joan: None of the resources cited are endorsing any products, publication, person or service as a result of its use or citation.
Please add resources and comments below or send to me at FridayWithJoan@aol.com.
(I can also publish comments anonymously at your request).
This blog post is dedicated to the memory of Judy Flanagan, CMP, CMM, of Haddonfield, NJ, who died April 22, 2019. A CMP, CMM, and a past president of the MPI Philadelphia Area Chapter, she is missed terribly by many friends, family and colleagues.
May her memory be only for a blessing.
Originally published Meetings Today Blog
blog post and also share your “silly” or “stupid” questions in the comments below.
We won’t judge and the more examples we see from each other, the better!
*If you’d like to be among those asked for your input for future newsletters, please email me at FridayWithJoan@aol.com with your name, your title, employer, years of experience, and any topics about which you know lots and/or have strong opinions about.
I would to help get your thoughts included, attributed or not.
Hearing experiences and opinions of a wide-variety of current and retired industry practitioners is a value to readers and to me.
**Participants at meeting or events are still called the “audience” or “attendees,” which means we really don’t want them to be involved.
***If you’d prefer your comments posted unattributed, please email them to me at FridayWithJoan@aol.com and I’ll post without your name or identifiers.
Originally published Meetings Today Blog
Two articles that I read recently—one on the “science of cuteness” from The New York Times and another about “parenthood-indecision therapists” from The Washington Post—took me back to my younger days of deciding whether or not to have children.
In my 20s, I learned, in TIME magazine, of a new organization called, then, the National Organization for Non-Parents (later, the National Association for Optional Parenthood) founded by Ellen Peck and Shirley Radl. I was intrigued.
Like many young people, especially women, our route to adulthood was to graduate from high school, then college, and then marry and have children, with maybe a job along the way. Look, I’m a child of the ‘50s and ‘60s! It was different then.
I’d always thought I would have 1.9 children and then adopt “thousands” and be a true “earth mother,” never giving a thought to how I’d care for or support those. We were the beginning of that part of the women’s movement who thought we could have it all.
When I chose to not have children, the route to ensuring it was arduous: at the time, a woman’s age times the number of children she had had to equal 120 in order for a woman to receive a tubal ligation, or permission from a spouse and at least two psychiatrists.
It wasn’t law but it was policy at hospitals.
I met one of those criteria and had to go through hoops to meet the other. I was certain that parenthood, after giving it much thought, was not something I wanted to do.
“What if you regret it?” I was asked that question in numerous appearances on national radio and TV shows what I would do if I one day regretted my decision.
My response was that it was better to regret not having children than to regret having them once they were there.
Those of you who are parents and work full or part time, from home or in a hotel or convention center or office—or those of you who are caregivers for someone—have multiple jobs. I do not know how you do it. And sadly, I don’t have a convenient list of tips for you.
On days when, at my home office, the two cats are particularly needy, I think about you and wonder how in the world you find time to breathe.
If you are single—that is, without a spouse or partner or someone sharing the responsibilities—the work you do is overwhelming.
And the hours required of us are often obscene.
Those of you in sales have talked to me about the evenings when you have to entertain. Planners often work late, take work home, or feel an obligation to go to events held by those with whom you are doing business. Event Service Professionals (aka CSMs)?
OY! Simply OY. You are never not on call.
There is academic research like this “Parenting Stress and Its Associated Factors Among Parents Working in Hospitality …” in which it says:
“The service industry is common for long working hours and shift works. The current study investigated parents working in six types of service industries, including hotel and food & beverages, wholesale and retail, gaming and entertainment, medical health and social welfare, education, and as housewife/man.
“The work nature is further classified as on-shift or non-shift, and whether the family is single-income, double-income or single parent.”
“A Horrifying Path to America for Hotel Workers” shows the nightmare faced by immigrants, women in particular, who are being exploited to fill gaps in hospitality jobs:
“In today’s fragmented, contractor-heavy economy, many hotels, restaurants, and other facilities no longer directly employ their workers. This employment arrangement may seem strange, but ‘it is very common for hotels in the U.S. to contract with labor recruiters in the Philippines (and other countries like Jamaica) to recruit temporary seasonal workers on H-2B visas,’ said Laura Berger, formerly of the City Bar Justice Center, a New York–based pro bono legal organization that represented [one named person] in her immigration case.”
[Related Content: Why Women Are Ideal Hospitality Leaders]
Now the hotel industry is seeking parents to fill post-Brexit staffing gaps, assuming that all plays out as planned (will it or won’t it is still part of the question).
Had I held off on the topic of parenting and caregiving for a Friday With Joan newsletter, where I often interview industry colleagues or others, I know that interviewing parents and caregivers in our industry’s many segments—planners, hotel sales and service, heart-of-the-house hourly workers, and others—would have been one more thing to do to add to their list. I chose to do this separately and let you weigh in at your leisure. How do you balance the demands of parenting or caregiving while working in the hospitality industry?
Here’s some additional reading on parenting and hospitality that I discovered:
I hope that those reading this—parents and caregivers—will weigh in below in the comments. We need to know what the industry can do to make working in the industry and having children and/or marrying more sensible.
What can the industry do to support you and make life better?
If there are Global Meeting Industry Day (GMID) events in April 2019 addressing the issues of parenting and caregiving, please let us know. I’m pretty sure that combining marriage and/or children and/or caregiving and/or aging in hospitality is not on the radar of enough.
And if you would prefer to have me post a comment anonymously for you, write to me at FridayWithJoan@aol.com and I’ll do so without any identifying information.
Original post Meetings Today Blog
“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” – Rebecca West (1892 – 1983), author and journalist.
Each time I’ve asked women in our industry if they consider themselves feminists they hesitate. Not all of them—but enough and in different age cohorts that I think there is a fear of being a strong woman, showing you are a strong woman, and identifying as a feminist.
All my life I’ve known women who worked in and outside the home.
Women who work outside the home are known to work far more than men if their spouses or partners are male.
Let me digress briefly. Many of us are aware of the plight of women in situations far more dire than fighting for standing and pay equity in the workplace:
I know I’m addressing more of what are called “first world problems.”
Yes, I’d like to be able to fix the world for all people and in particular for women. I can only tackle so much while raising the consciousness of many.
So for the purpose of the March 2019 Friday With Joan newsletter, published the week before International Women’s Day, I start “at home” with the hospitality industry.
Which for our purposes here, also includes the meetings and event industry.
In 2018, more women were elected to the U.S. Congress and to U.S. State Houses than ever before. On March 8, just weeks before GMID, International Women’s Day will be observed.
Its theme for International Women’s Day in 2019 is #BalanceforBetter.
“Balance” meaning striving for a more “gender-balanced” world.
As we look at issues impacting women—including those in our industry, from sales and meeting professionals to those in catering, management and housekeeping roles—we recognize that if we fail to communicate why our positions, titles and pay matter, we will fall behind. This is a reality that has held true for all women.
Yes, even event planners, who are predominantly female and are given the authority to negotiate multimillion-dollar contracts and provide updates to boards of directors on the financial impact of meetings, must explain their worth or suffer the consequences.
An MPI blog post titled “Reinforcing A Sense of Belonging,” declared that the organization I call my “mothership” will now provide a “pipeline of women to lead MPI.”
This statement made me stop and think. I served on my MPI Chapter Board, as Chapter President, and on the International Board, when women including Marta Hayden, Beverly Kinkade and Anna Chabot were leading MPI. That’s quite the pipeline of women!
I was asked for input prior to MPI launching their first women’s leadership initiative, and I saw its demise. Which, based on the above blog post, held no discernable lasting power.
MPI, like most of the EIC member organizations, has not had a woman CEO in its history—though I know of women who applied.
Why is that the case in an industry where anecdotally there are a majority of women? What I’ve noted about MPI is not a knock on MPI—they are trying again.
It’s a question posed to an industry that we believe is populated mainly by women.
Why do we still hold so little visible power?
In compiling the results of its “A Sense of Belonging” study, MPI asked “In what ways are women treated differently than men at work?” The responses from women were as follows:
14% of respondents chose “Other.”
As one who grew up in a world where women fought for pay equity, I am painfully aware of and pay attention to what may hold us back. Is it the way we speak, the image we present and the images of us that are presented? We often apologize for saying something.
We’ll say “I just wanted to say” and negate whatever it is with “just.”
Should we applaud MPI and others for again focusing on women or be dismayed that again there is a focus on women in leadership when we didn’t make it stick before?
Doug Heath, MPI’s second executive director, heard me when I asked why MPI’s three representatives to the (then) CLC Board of Directors included no women though around me at MPI meetings I saw a majority of women in the audience. It wasn’t unusual—most of the delegates from the industry organization members were men.
Doug appointed me to be one of MPI’s three delegates knowing I would speak up strongly for MPI and what the industry needed.
And here’s what happened at my first meeting, an event that, though long ago, is in my head as if it were yesterday: I prepared for my first CLC Board meeting. I read my CLC board book and discussed the relevant issues with Doug and others in MPI’s leadership
Then I spoke up at the meeting.
At the first break, a man, not much older though considerably taller than I, patted me on the head and said “just wait until you’re older and more experienced. You’ll understand why…”
He was conveying this message: “don’t speak up ‘little lady’—know your place.”
This explains how women hesitate versus speaking their minds.
I did not equivocate in anything I said.
You too know how men often take credit for what women say or “translate” women’s words to their own. You’ve certainly witnessed it in interactions at meetings and events.
Case in point: I was co-presenting with a male colleague at an industry meeting and after each thing I said, he said “What Joan means is…” and then repeated what I’d said in his words. He swears he meant nothing by it and yet this happens to women all the time.
Then too, women are interrupted by men when speaking and we let it happen.
Here’s some advice from the above article to take to heart: “Women, if you are interrupted for any reason other than someone asking for clarification, say to the interrupter:
“’There are a few more essential points I need to make. Can you delay a moment while I do that?’” or ‘I know I will appreciate your feedback, but can you hold off until I’m done?’”
This may also come in handy when you’re negotiating for a pay raise.
Or while you’re in a negotiation with a buyer or seller.
Here’s what I hope, individually, you who identify as female, will do:
Those who identify as male, please:
For our industry:
Tell us more … about your experiences by completing the poll and commenting on the blog and within the comments on the second part of this newsletter.
What do you think can be done for women to gain equal footing at the least in an industry where we predominate but don’t get the pay and recognition we deserve?
And consider this: “Being a feminist is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not. You either believe in full equality of men and women or you do not.”
– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author, recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship (“Genius Award”) and author of “Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions.”
Related Reading From the March 2019 Edition of Friday With Joan
Original post Meetings Today
I’m frustrated with the meetings industry.
If I had written the final version of this blog in December 2018*, before my cousin Gayle** sent me the book Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by Anne Lamott, my written frustration and anger toward OUR industry—that can’t seem to change—might have “burned your eye.”
As I thought about the state of the meetings industry and read Ms. Lamott’s book, I calmed a bit. “Stop the anger,” I thought. “Be nice” and write calmly. And as a colleague said to me years ago and others have said more recently, “be patient—it takes time to change.”
This was all before the 2019 Meetings Today Trends Survey results were released.
I read the numbers in print and digitally and was even more livid, especially at the question asking if planners had a written security and disaster plan in place for their event(s).
28% of respondents said they were “working on it,” which really is a “no.” And those planners who actually responded with a “no” totaled 44%.
That’s 72% of planners who said “no”!
Then I read the summation of some comments Tyler Davidson, Meetings Today’s chief content director, compiled. My cranky anger rose again.
Should I write a cranky blog or a “nice” blog?
I chose to focus on trends where the numbers and some comments were to me most troubling. I then reached out to industry and industry-related or former industry colleagues to respond to a few questions to check my own levels of exasperation and get their input.
[Side note: I’m a Myers-Briggs “P” if that helps you better understand my position].
These colleagues read the numbers and the comments on specific topic areas and responded. Their comments are the sidebar (or “Part 2”) of this Friday With Joan blog post.
If in editing their remarks, we’ve changed their intentions, we apologize and hope they’ll add to the comments here or there. I insist you go and read through those responses.
[Editor’s Note: Scroll down to the section of this blog post labeled “Join the Discussion and Move Meetings Forward” for links to all of the responses].
My greatest frustration was around risk and contingency preparation. The numbers tell me that about 70% of those responding have no plans because “working on it” is still a “no.”
In preparation to deliver a short awareness of risk and contingency planning program for an industry association recently, I heard what I always hear from clients and colleagues:
a) we don’t have time or money to develop a plan; b) the hotel (or convention center or other venue) will take care of any risks; c) our security team has it well in hand; and my all time favorite, d) nothing bad has ever happened at our meetings so why bother?
These and other excuses for not planning to protect people, property and reputation astound me. Not an expert in security, I am a long-time practitioner of developing plans and enacting those plans for risks that include threats to people, property and finances.
If even the following issues—not going back as far as 9/11 or 2005’s Hurricane Katrina—are not in the collective front-of-mind thinking, what sort of tragedy or disaster will actually inspire others to stop, process what is going on and make change?
Could it be:
Brad Goldberg, Tyra Hilliard and Ken Wheatley concluded that developing common language, using those trained in security, and rethinking and planning are the best ways to be prepared.
While I agree with those strategies, they are far beyond what most in our industry consider.
The other issues and responses I found puzzling in the survey were those about:
In the week before I wrote the final version of this blog, I met with a retired hotel colleague and his husband, who asked me if I still loved what I did. I hesitated.
As we talked, it was clear that I felt—feel—great passion for the work I do. That includes this industry and the changes I believe that meetings can make in the world and the changes that can be made and made-to-stick in this industry. My frustration increases with the lack of overall change in how we operate and deliver content.
And as it is said, “nevertheless, she persisted.”
To people who tell me to have patience…
I wonder how many years it takes of actively working in an industry where others, including those who provided responses for this month’s newsletter, continue to work hard, speak and teach to impact change—for change to stick.
I wrote this blog post in a way that was a combination of “nice” and cranky because of inspiration from Cindi Leive.
Her “Brief But Spectacular Take” on PBS Newshour on 1.28.19, crystalized it: I’m angry and I’m tired of “making nice,” equivocating about how angry I am.
So, to you, Cindi Leive, I add another dedication for the ability to express the anger I have expressed in the past only to be chastised because “angry women” just aren’t OK in our world. I have learned I can express my anger and still maintain a strong voice.
These are the colleagues who responded to my questions:
I invite you to join us here, in the blog comments, in a discussion about what you think we can do to make change stick. That way in 2019 or 2020 the responses to the Meetings Today Trends Survey questions will reflect that we’ve actually made a difference.
And please don’t still be “working on” your written disaster plan when that time comes!
Editor’s Note: The views expressed by contributing bloggers are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Meetings Today or its parent company.
*At lunch in December with colleagues who asked me how I was, I used a “not-for-a-family-publication” word to say I was THAT ANGRY at how the industry just doesn’t change or keeps reinventing the wheel around diversity, inclusion, women’s empowerment, meeting design, risk and contingency planning, negotiations and contracts, ethics and on and on.
I was cranky, angry and frustrated to think so many of us had spent so much time working hard to move things along and they did and then BOOM, full stop until the issues are raised again and VOILA! It’s all fresh again and history is not considered or built upon.
And then … we are stuck.
**This blog post is dedicated to my cousin Gayle. And Cindi Leive mentioned later in the post. And, my editor, Eric Andersen, who is truly remarkable and “gets” me!
Originally published Meeting Today Blog
Prologue: Picture this … it’s the season of gift giving and of year-end hotel contract deadlines. I’m working feverishly to finish a number of complex hotel contracts for clients before everyone takes time off for the Christmas holidays. My spouse brings a box from our mail room to my home office.
I ask, as I continue to write contract provisions, from whom the box was sent, thinking it must be from a family member or friend. When the sender is mentioned—a salesperson with whom we are in difficult (politely said!) negotiations—I loudly say “DROP IT!”*
In one of my favorite films, Defending Your Life, we see that after death, one’s ‘first stop” is a place that looks remarkably like Epcot Center. There, we are tasked with watching videos of our lives and “defending” our every action. It has a wonderfully funny tie-in to our industry with scenes about who gets the “better” hotels with the “better” turn-down amenities as a result of what appears from our lives. Chuckling as I write this—thinking not unlike who gets the upgrades in real life, huh?
The film is amusing, down-right funny (think whether you want to be seen by important people as you slurp your linguini in a restaurant) thoughtful and insightful.
Differently staged and with similar intent, is The Good Life, a TV production that so fascinated me, I now have a desire to recommend viewing episodes in preparation for ethics discussions in classes I teach and programs I facilitate. Is there a “good” place or a “bad” place after we die? Is it like Epcot Center? I don’t know. I do know that my actions after receiving the box would have to be defended.
The point? Many of you will give or receive gifts or entertain or be entertained by those with whom you are doing business, have done business, referred business or one day may do business. What goes into your thinking as you chose to whom to give or entertain, and for the recipients, to accept a gift or invitation or not?
How much would the potential of “defending” your actions—now, to an ethics committee or an HR or other officials in your company or professional organization—play in your choice of what and how much you gift to, or accept from, someone?
Research: In preparation to write the initial blog post in the October 2018 newsletter and for this post you’re reading, I did extensive new research: conversations with current and former hotel executives, industry attorneys, and EIC and EIC-member organizations’ representatives; reading articles about our industry’s and others’ ethics practices; reading hotel companies’ ethics policies [highly recommend and easily found with a search**]; and asking, via social media for those interested in responding to questions about industry ethics to contact me. A compilation of those responses can be found here.
I also asked questions of three industry recruiters—MeetingJobs, Searchwide, and Vetted Solutions. The responses from their CEOs are in this section of the December 2018 Friday With Joan newsletter.
Preview: I was … well, read it and you might figure out my response after reading on.
And once read, please answer the Friday With Joan poll questions.
Analysis: EIC, our industry’s umbrella organization, was unable to tell me which of its members has an enforceable code of ethics and/or conduct. In my research I learned that of those who do, two are NSA and NACE. I know that MPI, PCMA, and ASAE do not have enforceable codes, although MPI did at one time. ASAE has a separate, enforceable code for those who have achieved their CAE—Certified Association Executive—designation; the code for all other members is aspirational.
Those who have achieved their CMP—Certified Meeting Professional—are bound by this code, which is worded much like the codes of many of the EIC organizations that have codes of conduct or ethics.
(Use this link to EIC members; go to their sites to read the codes. Even if you are not a member of one of these organizations, it is likely you will do business with someone who is).
I verified with colleagues with whom I served on the then-CLC Board some years ago that our umbrella organization formerly required an enforceable code of ethics to be an EIC member. Now, it is asked that a code be submitted with the membership application, but it is not required for membership.
I confirmed that HSMAI, for example, does not have a code of conduct or ethics.
I imagine others do not as well.
Of those with enforceable codes, I was told the main charge of an ethics violation is the use of a certification when it has not been earned or renewed.
This was believed, by those with whom I spoke, to be a belief that few are violating the codes.
And now, ‘tis the season of gifts and entertainment. Many feel valued if they receive a gift or an invitation. Those on the receiving end believe it is perhaps their due for the hard work they have performed. Perhaps the invitation to an event is viewed as an opportunity to network even if they have no business to offer; the receipt of a gift, seen as one of friendship beyond the business relationship.
How do we decide when it’s appropriate to offer and accept gifts or invitations? And more, when is it appropriate to flaunt these gifts and entertainment on social media for all to see and perhaps question if a code of ethics—that of an employer or industry association—has been violated?
During this season of giving, it is also the season of year-end business and for some independent meeting planners and others who work for commissions, a season of meeting a deadline before commissions are lowered by some hotel companies. To that, many are posting that they are going around the “system” and finding ways to receive what they believe is their “due”—a commission amount that is greater than that announced by hotel companies. More details here and here.
In my research again, I was told by many current and former hoteliers and others that this practice will face consequences. This was stated to me, and I’ve agreed to, as I do with many, keep the confidence of the person who provided this input:
“By encouraging hotels to breach the requirement that they adhere to brand standards, or to hide the payment in some fashion to deceive, planners need to evaluate whether they could potentially be liable for interfering with the contract or if they are perpetrating some kind of fraud. Even more disturbing however is that this takes the profession back not just a step, but a mile.
“It seems a lot like the concepts that planners finally overcame when some were asking for blind commissions. If the planners are handling the commission in this fashion, they need to be mindful that are acting on behalf of the group [for whom they are doing business].
“They need to be concerned about this being a potential violation of the group’s code of ethics.”
And as noted above, it may also be a violation of the brand’s code of ethics.
From everything I see and hear, from the justifications in classes and other conversations and those in social media, and from the many reports in the news and the investigation of us by the U.S. Congress, I think we are moving into even more dangerous territory in and outside of our industry. Many find ways to justify their actions in the request for and acceptance of gifts, perks, and entertainment: we’re underpaid, under-appreciated, work long hours, need to network to find a new job, etc.
Suggested Actions to Help Avoid Unethical Gifting Situations:
May the light of this season and the hope of the new year bring our industry and us individually to new thinking about how we do business and how we want to be seen.
*You wanted to know what happened, right? I called the client immediately and was told that they too had received a box.
Neither of us had opened it. I asked what we should do.
It was agreed I’d call the salesperson and say that we could not accept the gifts.
I was told that these were not practical to return. The client agreed that they would use them in an office gifting event and that I could dispose of the gift by donating it.
**You will find, in your search, codes for how hotel companies deal with their own vendors, customers and staff. The codes are enlightening.
Editor’s Note: The views expressed by contributing bloggers are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Meetings Today or its parent company.
Related Reading From the December 2018 Edition of Friday With Joan
Click here to view additional content in the 12.07.18 Friday With Joan newsletter.
Originally published Meetings Today Blog
When the meetings industry first introduced the CMP—referred to as “Certified Meeting Planner”—it was to help ensure that those who planned meetings be considered professionals.
As the program evolved, it became possible for suppliers in our industry to be tested and to receive the designation, which as a result was changed to “Certified Meeting Professional.”
For most of the years I’ve been in this industry, I’ve questioned the business practices that are considered “standard” or “normal” and sought evidence of those practices being ethical and professional.
I’ve looked to other professions—accounting, medicine, law, journalism, association management, counseling, among them—and saw that there were standards of conduct that must be adhered to in order to maintain one’s license to practice in that profession.
No such thing exists for planning, sales, or convention services in our industry.
In preparing to write this blog post—one of two (or more) that will look at practices and perceptions of those of us who plan and supply services and venues for meetings—this part of the definition of “professional” struck me:
“characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession.”
In fact, in the 9th Edition of the EIC Manual, subtitled “A working guide for effective events, meetings and conventions”, there is no separate chapter on “ethics.”
Instead, it is included in “Domain J: Professionalism” where “Sub Skill 30.01” is “Demonstrate Ethical Behaviour.”
APEX, The Accepted Practices Exchange Initiative, and the CMP give us the technical “standards” of the profession. To be a member of the Events Industry Council (EIC)(founded in 1949 as the “Convention Liaison Council,” then renamed “Convention Industry Council”), it was, for years, a requirement to have a code of conduct or ethics.
Now, it is required to submit a code but it is no longer a requirement for membership. No one could tell me when and why the requirements for membership changed.
In talking with staff of a number of EIC member organizations, I learned that some don’t have codes of conduct or codes of ethics at all.
And if they do, many, like that of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE)are, for all but Certified Association Executives (CAE), aspirational. Only for CAEs is there an enforceable code of conduct referred to as “CAE Standing Rules and Policies.”
If one has attained and maintained the CMP designation, one agrees to abide by the CMP Code of Ethics. But (and I do mean “but” not “and” as improvisation teaches) it is rarely used to strip someone of their CMP for unethical behavior.
I was told by EIC that the ethics complaints are almost always about a person using the designation who has not been attained or maintained and not for behaviors that violate the code as I believe those in the stories below do.
In e-mail exchanges and voice conversations with staff members of EIC member organizations, there seems to be little done now if there are ethics violations.
MPI, which used to have an enforceable and lengthy code of conduct, changed it years ago to the Principles of Professionalism for which there is no reporting body.
It seems, an already existing program—MPICares—was created to advance service projects and report and examine issues of sexual harassment and ethics violations.
(Interestingly, featured in the news recently and also reported on this week by Meetings Today was the MPI Foundation Executive Director who has been accused of a crime, who has since resigned from her position but claims innocence).
There is a fine ethical/legal line that I am sure will be sorted out as this proceeds.
Why write now—again—about these issues?
There are multiple reasons:
1. I’ve been asked repeatedly what I want my legacy to be. I hope that a) it’s that we learn to create interactive, well-conceived and executed meetings with no more theatre or schoolroom sets, and really, b) we all agree to operate in a manner that reflects well on us individually and on our profession which, I believe, means working ethically.
2. Colleagues and strangers have for years and continue to contact me to sort out ethical issues. Most recently, some have discussed the quid pro quo of booking meetings: suppliers want their numbers to gain their bonuses or keep their jobs. Planners or others who sign meeting contracts are often willing to sign multi-year or exaggerated room-block contracts or make up fake and contract meetings to “help a seller friend” achieve their goals to earn more money or bonuses, knowing full well that what they both are doing is not ethical and may, in fact, be illegal.
Strangely, the example most often cited as unethical behavior in our industry is of sellers who offer and planners who accept familiarization (“fam”) trips (or hosted buyer invitations) for destinations and/or properties the parties know are not in the pipeline for use, justifying that “someday” they may work elsewhere or that “someday” they may convince someone to book the city or site because they were once there.
Forget that the wining and dining and gifts that come with many of these trips may have dollar values above what one’s employer’s code of ethics note is permissible.
Over the many years I’ve worked in the industry, I’ve seen the results of unethical behavior and the cost to organizations as a result.
Here are but a few specific examples, never reported to the CMP Board, in which planners and suppliers who were CMPs (or in one case a CAE) were involved.
Story 1: Full-time planners at an organization created their own side company to receive commission on meetings they booked for their employer. The commission agreements were inserted after the contracts were signed. Adding to the behavior, the planners often used the CEO’s electronic signature to sign these bogus contracts.
The hotels? They got the numbers they wanted as did the sales people who received their bonuses. The planners? Perks for getting the business signed and an expectation of commission.
Though these planners were eventually fired when an audit uncovered the fraudulent meetings, I know the planners were hired by others because, by law, a past employer cannot ask about such behaviors. Because nothing was reported to the CMP Board, even the CMP designation wasn’t stripped.
Story 2: An organization’s CEO, a CAE, and planner, a CMP, booked a future meeting with a vastly inflated room block. The contracted block was not remotely achievable given the group’s pattern and expectations. The hotel salesperson, if history had been submitted by the group or checked by the hotel, would have questioned the numbers.
What did the CEO and planner receive for contracting this meeting? Super Bowl tickets and other perks.* What happened to the organization? They paid more than $100,000 in attrition and almost went bankrupt. The salesperson? Bonus and promotion based on the nights booked even though they were never actualized.
[Yes, this is a discussion for another time—how our industry sets up conditions for incentives for salespeople. It was a conversation, in research for this blog that surfaced with many hotel personnel.]
*Both were eventually fired though no charges were brought. The planner went on to tout expertise in the job and was praised by suppliers for good work.
Story 3: A planner wanted to help a supplier partner who was having trouble booking enough business to meet their year-end goals. The planner made up multiple meetings that were not on anyone else’s radar—basically fake business.
The planner, a CMP, received trips and other perks for themselves and for their family. The supplier? Made their numbers and received a bonus. The organization? Hefty legal fees, some cancellation fees, and a new meeting created to mitigate what would have been additional millions of dollars in cancellation fees.
Uncovered in an audit and review of emails, the planner was fired.
When the action was reported to the hotel company, despite their ethics’ code, the salesperson remained on the job.
Story 4: A planner needed promotional products (aka “tchotchkes”) for a meeting.
When ordering it was not specified that the items could not come from China—just that the price had to be “the lowest.” The lowest priced items were made in China and were ordered by the promotional products company.
When received, the planner told (not asked!) the supplier to remove all labels on boxes and other packaging indicating that the items were from China. It was the supplier who came to me with the story of the issue and the dilemma: does one report this action to an employer or to the CMP ethics review board and risk losing a good client or comply?
[I know the outcome—I’ll let you suss this one out and consider what you’d do].
There are many more situations I’ve seen and about which others have told me. Included in the current issues are those about third parties who receive commissions and about which I wrote previously for a Friday With Joan newsletter and blog post.
I was told directly by someone doing this that they and others are going to the franchise properties’ owners and demanding the higher commission and in some cases getting it.
In talking with an industry attorney, I was told that in an audit, when discovered, the franchisee could be in jeopardy.
Among stories known to many are those surrounding what U.S. government planners faced over one particular Las Vegas meeting that was reported in national news and by our industry’s press. As a result, all of our industry and all meetings were made to look like boondoggles.
Where do we go from here?
If we are to be thought of as professionals, regardless of our job titles or in which industry segment we work, is it appropriate to look more closely at behaviors?
Consider, as you chew on the stories noted above and your own experiences, these questions:
Will you help me and help our profession? Either in the comments section below or in the comments area in the sidebar interview with Paul A. Greenberg who is a professor of journalism and was in our industry, or to me personally at FridayWithJoan@aol.com, write and tell me what guides you ethically. Answer the poll questions.
Read the codes of ethics for the industry segment to which you belong. And watch for the continuing discussion based on input from a variety of industry professionals in the next weeks about hiring and interviewing with ethics in mind, specific language and reaction to that in the CMP Code, and more.
If we can’t get this right, what then is the point of pretending to be professionals?
November 6, 2018, is the U.S. midterm election.
I, and those affiliated with Meetings Today, encourage you to vote. There are issues on ballots throughout the U.S. that will impact meetings including taxes and initiatives important to how and where we do business.
There are elections of individuals who you may want to question at town hall meetings about their stands that impact your particular employer or clients and their meetings.
Having written about what happens when laws are passed that cause groups to reconsider where their meetings are held, it’s a time to be more informed. For those who are not U.S. citizens, we encourage you to vote in elections of your own countries.
Editor’s Note: The views expressed by contributing bloggers are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Meetings Today or its parent company.
Related Reading From the October 2018 Edition of Friday With Joan