Event industry trade association Eventia has registered a formal complaint to BT over the company’s handling of relationships with agencies on its preferred supplier roster. This was after its Global Services division employed the services of a start-up company not on its supplier roster. Essentially Eventia’s complaint was that BT did not adhere to its own guidelines by recruiting the services of The Waterford House Partnership for an event this year in Istanbul. This was a start-up agency owned by Kevin Ingram, previously the largest shareholder in the THA group which folded with debts of more than £6m, including around £100K of BT shareholders’ money.
Eventia CEO Izania Downie met with BT senior management and made it clear that the events industry – which includes a lot of BT shareholders – was less than impressed by BT’s idea of good practice.
Downie said: “The response I received was that BT Global services was halfway through its BT Masters Club 2010 with the event in Istanbul and it would have been too complicated to bring in another agency. I pointed out that a lot of our member agencies that were on the roster and satisfied BT’s procurement policy would have been glad to have handled the work and were concerned that the project had been handed to an agency with no track record and no proven trading history instead. I also pointed out that a lot of creditors were angry that BT had operated in this way, including previous THA staff.
"BT said it wasn't considered an ‘event’ at the time which is how they justified the appointment of the Waterford House Partnership to continue the work started by THA. They argued that technically they weren't obliged to put it out to the agencies on the roster.
“They were keen to explain their side of the story and didn't understand the ramifications across the industry until I explained the fact that many agencies who were on the roster could have fulfilled the work and therefore couldn't understand BT's actions, which was why agencies complained to Eventia and asked us to take action.
“Since my meeting they have agreed to put that programme within the official events roster so everyone on the roster can tender for it, making it an even playing field.
The fact that they have listened to us on behalf of the industry and made this change demonstrates why it’s so important for us to have a dedicated voice for the industry.”