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 Do Event Planners Take The High Road or The Low Road?

Event and meeting professionals are confronted with ethical decisions everyday. Ethics is one of those slippery words that’s often difficult to define. For different people, ethics means different things. Shouldn’t ethics be a standard?

A few days ago, I read a NY Times article by ALINA TUGEND  entitled, “In Life and Business, Learning to Be Ethical”. What Tugend writes resonated with me.

Tugend begins , “LOTS of New Year’s resolutions are being made — and no doubt ignored — at this time of year. But there’s one that’s probably not even on many lists and should be: Act more ethically.

Most people, if pressed, would acknowledge that they could use an ethical tuneup. Maybe last year they fudged some numbers at work. Dented a car and failed to leave a note. Remained silent when a friend made a racist joke.”


Meetings and events professionals are confronted with ethical decisions all the time:

  • Would you accept a commission from a hotel or other supplier, should you disclose this to your client?
  • If you’re receiving a commission do you also charge a fee?
  • Is it ethical to select only a vendor that will give you a commission even if another vendor with the same qualifications can offer the same product or service at a lesser price?
  • If you work for a major company, government entity, etc. & love your third party event management company, but must send out RFPs and show that you’ve received 3 bids including one from your favorite company. Is it ethical to go with the favored company if the others offer more value or better ideas? This particular issue is a difficult one, but it is an issue.
  • Or do you show the Bids from the other companies to your favorite company and ask them to bid accordingly, thus garnering them the contract?
  • Do you let all those that receive the RFP know that you are merely fulfilling a requirement?
  • Does one bid on a specific design at a certain price and then fulfill this with leas expensive materials or less staff to make more profit?
  • Would you put 350 seats theater style in the room with just one narrow aisle when the capacity is 300?
  • Would you ever think that no one will be needing those aisles?
  • Would you use drape on a stage set that is not fire-retardant?
  • If you are a hotel salesperson, and a meeting planner asked for information for a room block and/or meeting space, would you go around that person and contact the end client directly, offering a slightly better deal?

The thinking of some people is, “who will know? Does it make a difference?”

It sure does!!

These are just some of the ethical dilemmas that I’ve run across in the meeting and events industry.

If we are to consider ourselves Professionals, than we must have and abide by a Professional Code of Ethics always, not just when we feel like it.

Read the entire NY Times article here and then think about your ethics:

Your comments  are welcome as this is a very important topic.