Times they are a’changing
Peter Gray, an independent Motivation Consultant, presents a regular Business Events News feature on current issues in the Conference and Incentive industries.
I CONSIDER myself fortunate to have a young daughter who enables me to experience a part of life I thought I had left long behind me. It seems these days that television programs move very quickly from Peppa Pig to battles for world domination, without anything in between. In the world of so-called digital entertainment this is true too, with some 90% of programs for Xbox, for example, being mainly concerned with killing and maiming which, frankly, I can’t see as being relevant to kids.
So too, in the incentive industry we have moved from practitioners whose main purpose was in providing a thoroughly professional approach to their clients’ needs to a very much dog-eat-dog industry where profit margins are being sacrificed and the pressure on suppliers to do the same is becoming the norm.
Software is available that reduces compiling a proposal for a conference or incentive reward almost to a button-pushing exercise. Lists of hotels and venues in a given destination can be downloaded and an RFP sent all of them in just about the blink of an eye. Gone is the need for personal relationships with suppliers and the creativity that used to be provided not so much as a matter of course but of pride.
Speed these days is the name of the game and cutting margins is, it seems, the way to go.
Prior to emigrating to Australia I was pursuing a similar career in the UK. In the 10 or so years I was in the conference and incentive industries there I never had a contract with any of my clients and those clients ranged from blue-chip to oneman-bands. Everything was agreed upon with a handshake - “dictum meum pactum” - my word is my bond (motto of the London Stock Exchange). I also never had any complaints. My company was pleased to go the extra distance to ensure our clients’ complete satisfaction and generally at no additional cost to them.
That would never be possible these days. Everything has to be spelled out in multi-page contracts which are carefully monitored to ensure that everything promised is indeed provided. Yes, there are still PCOs and incentive practitioners, who do take great pride in their work and who do provide a very high level of service but it would appear that this is the exception rather than the rule.
That standards within our industry are diminishing is all too obvious. Some of this is brought about by changes in working practices such as introduction of new software products but many of the cuts and changes that we see are brought about by the supposed need to make more money.
Perhaps the motto of the London Stock Exchange has been superseded by that of fictitious investment banker Gordon Gekko: Greed is good!
Peter Gray is an independent, Accredited Incentive Practitioner and motivation consultant. He can be contacted at email@example.com