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Bob Lawson of Presentations Ltd 09/10/2007 [2]

Don't use agencies as ideas factories

Further to Martin Lines comments (Buyer Bites Back, M&IT, September) I would like to make the point that we are a service industry and I want us to serve the client and achieve their declared and often undeclared objectives. I want repeat business, I want to become a valued member of the client's team, and to that end we have to put ‘something in the shop window’; that costs money. We all have to do it . However it isn't for free. We, like any other business, have to recover our costs through what we sell. No pitch is for free - somebody pays in the end. However, I do get very tired of feeling we are on the pitch list to make up the buyer's quota, and subsequently hearing that our ideas (or occasionally seeing them) turn up on the clients brief to the successful pitcher. I get the feeling that often when you pitch, particularly to less experienced buyers, you are being used as a no cost ideas factory.
Having said that, is there another way? I am not sure you have to display your wares, especially for complex events, in detail.
In this industry we are ‘meetings architects’ in the first instance. Would you go to four conventional architects and ask them to design a building down to the almost the final drawing, and ask to cost it, all for free?
Bob Lawson
Effective Presentations

John Gallery of Great Potential Limited 12/10/2007

New concepts are transforming, often providing inspiration, vitality, a new direction, and the advantage of differentiation. So of course they should not be free to clients (M&IT, October, Letter of the Month).

The answer lies with the procurement sector, collectively and individually. Using other people's ideas (without remuneration or permission) is intellectual theft, and usually the hallmark of people with brains that specialise in detail (convergent minds), but lack powers of imagination (divergent minds).

This is not a criticism, because each strength is valuable, but that is no excuse for stealing as a response to a specific weakness.

M&IT would be doing the industry a favour if it introduced a 'name and shame' column where such executive immaturity and corporate disdain were demonstrated. Why should it be a source of pride to pretend to your company that you are an original thinker when you're not?

Chris Martins

Chris Martins can be contacted at 01423 360230.

Peter Turnbull of Corperactive Event Business 27/03/2008

Well Chris, if such a 'name and shame' list were to become reality, you would need an entire magazine to fill it.

Yes - using other people's ideas for free is intellectual theft, but not illegal unforntunately. As a result there are very few genuinely new ideas in circulation (just old fomats re-hashed using the latest TV show or second hand ideas stolen from unsuccesful pitches). This means that companies like ourselves, (who only produce new ideas) have to be extremely careful about the information we share and with whom. If buyers want something genuinely original, increasingly (and perhaps regretably) they will have to pay for it.

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Victoria Webb of Horseshoe Wood 05/10/2007 [0]

Time for technology

When it comes to booking venues, an emerging concern within the Events Industry is the hidden costs associated with poor lighting/AV provision. With a key objective being to communicate efficiently with their audience, it seems some venues are loosing sight of what their customers are really after.

Customers seek transparent pricing by venues, yet can be mislead by what room hire packages are offering in terms of lighting/AV provisions. Time and time again I hear of disappointed clients who feel that the additional costs of lighting and AV are far too high, and that the standards of technology are not compatible with their event requirements.

At Alton Towers, we believe it’s our responsibility to deliver customers the standard of technology they require at a price they can afford. We offer integrated packages that include top of the range lighting, lectern, stage and technicians. Lack of good technology is now a thing of the past, solving the problem of hidden costs.

A proactive approach to technology is a must in order to meet the needs and expectations of the Events Industry and I’m a firm believer that companies should always go the extra mile in order to ensure the best results.
Victoria Webb, Alton Towers

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Ben Gray of Crickleaze House 03/10/2007 [0]

Web Metrics Key to Measuring Marketing Success

In this incredible and fast moving age of technology, I am amazed that time and again I come across people in the events industry who remain suspicious of the web and fail to grasp or exploit its potential to the full. They fail to realise that, pound-per-pound, the web remains one of the most cost-effective ways to acquire new business.

However, having the right technology to deliver much sought after new leads to then be converted into new business is an ever changing beast. It can be hard to stay at the top of the game and move with the times whilst staying truly accountable for web based marketing initiatives. This is something very close to my heart at and Having optimised searching on Google and Yahoo is just one important aspect. I have come across many portals and agencies which are not only expensive, and seemingly offer the world but in reality the clients receive little in return in terms of valuable enquiries. Yet promises are made to deliver more marketing in return for more fees! Funny that!

There needs to be a way of measuring success and allowing clients to see exactly how their e-marketing efforts have been received and indeed the outcome. Measuring success online using metrics such as number of visitors to a websites, cost-per-click all tell their own story and are a guaranteed way to measure marketing success, and allows clients to stay in touch with their campaigns. They are never fobbed off with more marketing speak.

So it’s time for us web marketers to stand up and be counted. If you really are adding value to your clients, then don’t hide behind fluffy, qualitative terminology… of course it still may be valid but what clients really want to know is how much it actually costs them to acquire each new client. If you’re delivering great service, then web metrics can only serve to further underline success.
Ben Gray &

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Sarah Palmer of Nacco Materials Handling Group 13/09/2007 [2]

Ethnic Majority Meals?

Why do so many venues and caterers use Halal meat? Is it economy or inability to cook traditionally killed meat properly? I resent being forced to become a vegetarian rather than eat meat from an animal which hasn't been stunned prior to be bled to death.

The last conference I organised was for 200 people of which only 5 were vegetarians, 2 of which were on religious grounds. Nonetheless the remaining 195 delegates were provided with meat from animals who were killed in a way specific to a religion that they didn't follow.

If the event hadn't been such a nightmare to organise I could have cheerfully conducted a one woman protest campaign outside the kitchen doors!

It really makes me so cross, especially when we have so many good traditional British butchers and farmers who would be delighted to win a venue or catering contract. If anybody has got a list of non-Halal meat conference venues please share them.

Jo Neville of Lindley Catering Ltd 01/10/2007

At Lindley Catering Ltd we operate in over 60 stadiums throughout the UK. We are keen to ensure that every client gets exactly what they request. If a client advises us that there are 2 Halal meals required, that is what they get. We do not provide all delegates with that one dietary request.
Sarah, I am more than happy to forward a group directory to you which lists all venues that we currently operate contracts within.

Tim Waygood 03/10/2007

Totally agree.

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David Buse of Destinations Unlimited 06/09/2007 [1]

David Buse - destinations UNLIMITED

It’s good to see something written at last on mailbag. I was beginning to think the new log-in procedure had finished off what has been in the past a funny, serious, crusading and at times a little non PC look at our industry.

I do hope however that the new log-in procedure doesn’t exclude the participation of the likes of Hugo Ponsonby-Smythe, Seymour Places and Trevor Matters, especially now Santiago Fotheringil is no longer contributing to the M & I T magazine. They may have all been irreverent at times, but not in my opinion not totally irrelevant and they did prick the pomposity of some of the more parsimonious contributors.

John Keenan of CAT Publications Ltd 07/09/2007

Santiago Fothergill is very much alive and kicking. His latest piece is published in M&IT this month.

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Peter Moss of Greater Miami CVB 05/09/2007 [0]

Expect attitude improvement from US immigration

I was interested to read your Trends & Spends Survey results (M&IT, July/August).
UK travellers are continuing to visit the good old USA in large numbers. The first six months of this year show a three per cent increase on the same period last year. I am delighted to read that the UK events organisers and their clients are making a very positive contribution to these numbers.
You mention “increasingly bureaucratic visa requirements”. In fact UK passport holders travel under the visa waiver scheme, as do most European travellers, negating the need for a visa. And the days of the “surly” immigration office are over buster! Homeland Security is making sure officers receive training in customer service, even hiring Disney people to do the training in some cases.
You also make comment on the foreign policy of the USA. I do not read too much negative comment about other destinations whose human rights record towards their own populations leaves a lot to be desired.

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