elizabeth-richIndustry stalwart Elizabeth Rich proffers industry snippets in micenet AUSTRALIA’s new column.

McEvoy’s parting plea

Departing TA MD Andrew McEvoy, speaking at TA’s briefing session in Sydney late last year, made a plea to the industry and his replacement – stick with “Nothing Like Australia”. Referring to 2000 to 2010 as the “lost decade” with too much jumping about in terms of campaigns, he said the campaign he launched should be seen as part of a 20 year strategy. So let’s see if we get another overhaul with John O’Sullivan as the new MD and, God forbid, yet another campaign.

Congrex fallout

A big shock to the meetings industry, particularly in Europe, was the demise last year of one of the larger PCOs, Congrex. Bankruptcy has seen clients lose money and confidence shaken. IACPO is taking a closer look at its code of conduct and various PCO business models at its global meeting being held in Melbourne during AIME. There was plenty of chat about the fallout at ICCA in Shanghai and EIBTM in Barcelona.

Ethics and commissions at ICCA

A debate on commissions at ICCA’s 2013 Congress in Shanghai convinced the audience that “commission is a concept that should be universally accepted and celebrated in our industry”. The pre-debate poll showed only 20 per cent agreed and 50 per cent were undecided. But after hearing the arguments on both sides, the mood shifted to 56 per cent in favour, 36 per cent against and only eight per cent undecided.

Discussion in another session on the need for an ICCA Code of Conduct kept returning to bidding ethics with the majority calling for more transparency, especially with subvention, and the establishment of guiding principles for bidding. Sixty eight per cent believed it was not enough to rely on the laws operating in the host destination. An overwhelming 89 per cent wanted ICCA to consider a best practices guide.

Pharma codes and legislation bites

The Sunshine Act in the USA has sent global ripples into the pharma/healthcare meetings sector. It could be seen in Sydney at the World Congress on Lung Cancer last October where American medicos were unable to even pick up a boxed lunch for a pharma-sponsored session. Reporting on pharma spend on various conferences is a challenge in itself to the organisers, the pharma companies and the hosts and the recipients. Expect enforcement of codes already operating in Europe and Australia to strengthen.

In December, one of the largest pharma companies, GlaxoSmithKline, bit the bullet with a review of its practices, announcing “payments to healthcare professionals for speaking engagements or attendance at medical conferences will be phased out over the next two years”.

Business events gain global traction

The term “business events” is already embedded in the Australian industry, evidenced over the past decade initially with the rebranding of the Business Events Council of Australia, followed by Tourism Australia’s BE unit, the renaming of some Aussie convention bureaux, and the more recent introduction of Melbourne’s “Business Events Week”. It is gradually spreading its reach overseas. Malaysia has branded itself “Asia’s Business Events Hub” and Canada was prominent at EIBTM with its new name “Business Events Canada”.

EIBTM keynote hits a nerve

They say never bite the hand that feeds you. An outspoken keynote at EIBTM’s forum, UK Professor James Woudhuysen, managed to raise audience hackles with his controversial remarks relating to security measures, delegates’ accommodation preferences and destination choices. However, although he probably lost the younger audience with broadsides about indulging their narcissism and misplaced “youth worship”, he did make strong points about innovation, silos, connections and meeting content. He also revived the importance of the plenaries and keynote speakers for leadership, knowledge and stimulation. “Promote dissent and heat”, he said, “discontent leads to progress”. Case in point?

Check venue internet speed

Corbin Ball suggests a very simple way to test the speed of a venue’s internet: it can be done in a trice through www.speedtest.net. Very handy indeed if you need to check onsite the venue’s stated download and upload speeds. Corbin believes 512kb/sec should be a basic standard for venue Wifi, and it’s reasonable to charge for higher speeds if needed for webstreaming for instance.

Corporate travel and meetings merging

Another sign of the increasing inroads being made by corporate travel managers into the meetings sector was the recent announcement that the Global Business Travel Association has joined forces with MPI to create a new CMM Designation Program.