An un­reg­u­lated in­dus­try

Peter Gray, an in­de­pen­dent Mo­ti­va­tion Con­sul­tant, presents a reg­u­lar Busi­ness Events News fea­ture on cur­rent is­sues in the Con­fer­ence and In­cen­tive in­dus­tries.

Business Events News - - News -

OF ALL the pro­fes­sions in the world, be­ing an In­cen­tive Prac­ti­tioner or a Pro­fes­sional Con­fer­ence Or­gan­iser (PCO) are two that have es­caped reg­u­la­tion by most gov­ern­ments or reg­u­la­tory au­thor­i­ties.

Many pro­fes­sions re­quire achieve­ment of min­i­mum qual­i­fi­ca­tions and guar­an­teed ad­her­ence to ap­pro­pri­ate reg­u­la­tions. This is not the case if you claim to be an In­cen­tive Prac­ti­tioner or PCO.

Sev­eral as­so­ci­a­tions that rep­re­sent pro­fes­sion­als in th­ese fields do of­fer ac­cred­i­ta­tion pro­grams with the pur­pose of test­ing skills and of­fer­ing some guar­an­tee that a client’s re­quire­ments will be met to the high­est stan­dards. How­ever, none of them are com­pul­sory and many clients lack the knowl­edge for such ac­cred­i­ta­tion to be part of any pro­posal they re­quest.

Although I have been an In­cen­tive Prac­ti­tioner for many years and have achieved ac­cred­i­ta­tion stan­dards set by ap­pro­pri­ate in­dus­try bod­ies, I have never been asked by any client whether I am so qual­i­fied. This in it­self de­val­ues the whole pur­pose of ac­cred­i­ta­tion. How­ever, when my com­pany ap­points a new sup­plier we in­sist that they should be ap­pro­pri­ately accredited.

The In­cen­tives and Meet­ings In­dus­tries are guilty of cre­at­ing our own com­peti­tors. Many in­di­vid­u­als em­ployed by in­cen­tives or events com­pa­nies are tempted to set up busi­ness us­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence they have gained. How­ever, since there are no stan­dards man­dated in th­ese in­dus­tries it is dif­fi­cult to know pre­cisely when an in­di­vid­ual has the re­quired skills, knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence.

The re­sults achieved by many new-start com­pa­nies of­ten fall far be­low the stan­dards re­quired. Some­times this is be­cause of a lack of skills or knowl­edge; more of­ten it is be­cause of a lack of ex­pe­ri­ence.

The In­ter­net, the Web have proved a boon to many who al­ready had the nec­es­sary skills pre­vi­ously with­out them. All too of­ten in­di­vid­u­als out­side the in­dus­try ask them­selves the ques­tion “How dif­fi­cult can it be to or­gan­ise an event, a meet­ing, a con­fer­ence or de­sign an in­cen­tive pro­gram?” but the an­swer they refuse to ac­knowl­edge is “far harder than you would think”.

The num­ber of apps avail­able to the meet­ings in­dus­try is le­gion. Many of th­ese sug­gest that ev­ery­thing that needs to be done can be done at the touch of a but­ton. I am thank­ful to some de­gree that the num­ber of apps of which I am cur­rently aware for the In­cen­tive In­dus­try are sub­stan­tially less.

Sev­eral or­gan­i­sa­tions are now ‘get­ting in on the act’ which were pre­vi­ously the re­serve of meet­ing and events pro­fes­sion­als. Airbnb has an­nounced on its web­site that it has started of­fer­ing on­line tools to find meet­ings spa­ces and team­build­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. Cvent has long been of­fer­ing an al­most start-tofin­ish ser­vice through its soft­ware. And yet what hap­pens when some­thing goes wrong? Is one of their ex­ec­u­tives on hand to re­solve th­ese dif­fi­cul­ties? The an­swer, of course, is No. Even the CEO’s or Mar­ket­ing Di­rec­tor’s PA or EA - fre­quently tasked to or­gan­ise meet­ings, con­fer­ences and even in­cen­tives when the com­pany - mis­tak­enly - wants to save a dol­lar or two, won’t nec­es­sar­ily have the skills or re­sources to cope with the sort of things that can - and fre­quently do - go wrong when vi­tal el­e­ments of an event are del­e­gated to third par­ties.

A prop­erly qual­i­fied and accredited in­dus­try pro­fes­sional is an in­vest­ment not an ex­pense.

Their knowl­edge of a des­ti­na­tion or a venue, of hav­ing pre­vi­ously worked with a par­tic­u­lar Des­ti­na­tion Man­age­ment Com­pany; lo­cal knowl­edge and any pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ship with ho­tel man­age­ments can all re­duce the over­all cost of an event. It is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that an in­dus­try pro­fes­sional rep­re­sents their client and there­fore should al­ways make rec­om­men­da­tions to their ad­van­tage.

Accredited in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als have the dis­tinct ad­van­tage of be­ing re­quired to have pro­fes­sional in­dem­nity in­sur­ance and are ex­pected to abide by stan­dards set by the as­so­ci­a­tion that accredited them. They know that a com­plaint up­held by the ac­cred­i­ta­tion body could be dis­as­trous for their fu­ture busi­ness.

So, be­fore in­vest­ing in a soft­ware pack­age that prom­ises the earth; that sug­gests it can do just about ev­ery­thing any­one has ever thought of, ask the de­vel­oper what they will do and what li­a­bil­ity they have in the event that there are fail­ures of the suppliers they have rec­om­mended (and who will be pay­ing them a com­mis­sion to do so).

In­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als must fully jus­tify their ac­tions as well as be­ing wholly re­spon­si­ble for a project’s over­all bud­get. Check­lists abound. Whether they’re down­loaded from LinkedIn, Facebook or one of the pro­pri­etary event man­age­ment com­pa­nies they all need to be in­ter­preted in the light of re­quire­ments. If you’re a box-ticker then maybe this is the way for­ward for you but I would not rec­om­mend it.

The In­cen­tives and Meet­ings in­dus­tries de­serve to be recog­nised for the pro­fes­sional ser­vices their prac­ti­tion­ers pro­vide. Clearly the mes­sage is not get­ting across to clients who largely know noth­ing about the ac­cred­i­ta­tion pro­cesses al­ready in place.

Peter Gray is an in­de­pen­dent, Accredited In­cen­tive Prac­ti­tioner and mo­ti­va­tion con­sul­tant. He can be con­tacted at peter.gray@mo­ti­vat­ing­peo­

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