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Taking the Fall

3 April 2012 27 Comments

Today I learned of the latest government debacle: $4 shrimp on a catering menu resulting in “excessive and wasteful” spending at GSA’s 2010 Western Regions Conference. The date is April 3, 2012 or I might think this was an April Fool’s Day joke. I also learned that some people lost their jobs over this and the person in charge of the GSA resigned. Really? Due to $5 mini Monte Cristo sandwiches? Good thing I don’t work there or I could be en route to the unemployment office too.

My initial thought when reading about this was that these prices sounded about right, possibly even a little low for some of the areas in the country where we host meetings. I would love for coffee to be priced at $62/gallon everywhere I went. Crazy, I know…

Anyone who has spent time on the hotel side of our community understands the expense needed just to open the doors of a ballroom, much less set it to a client’s individual needs. Many people are still making the decision on where to hold a meeting based solely upon the sleeping room rate. This is a fine way to make a destination decision if all you are doing is putting heads in beds, but face to face meetings are so much more than that and require an entirely different host of needs and the resulting expenses. What if we all chose cell phones based on the initial cost of the phone and not how much it would cost us monthly? Don’t you want to know how many miles per gallon your potential vehicle is rated for before purchasing?

However, let’s not get hung up on F&B pricing, but instead try to look at the value of what attendees receive at a face to face meeting. Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has been around for more than fifty years and has been updated several times since the initial publication. In each iteration of this work, needs that are commonly accomplished at face to face meetings fall into nearly every category.

The original version:

  1. Biological and Physiological needs – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sleep, etc.
  2. Safety needs – protection from elements, security, order, law, limits, stability, etc.
  3. Belongingness and Love needs – work group, family, affection, relationships, etc.
  4. Esteem needs – self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, prestige, managerial responsibility, etc.
  5. Self-Actualization needs – realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.

The 1970’s version added two categories:

  1. Cognitive needs – knowledge, meaning, etc.
  2. Aesthetic needs – appreciation and search for beauty, balance, form, etc.

The 1990’s version added one:

  • Transcendence needs – helping others to achieve self-actualization.

The human condition automatically comes with a need to be with other humans and to belong to something greater and/or to accomplish more than can be done alone. If you really look Maslow’s list, I question how much of this can be done on a conference call or via Skype, Facetime, WebEx, etc. Our community represents and directly supports 1.7 million jobs, $263 billion in spending, a $106 billion contribution to GDP, $60 billion in labor revenue, $14.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $11.3 billion in state and local tax revenue. This is just the meetings community, imagine the hospitality industry as a whole…

In the immediate post 9/11 world we were encouraged by the government to meet, travel and boldly go where we have all gone before. Today the government seems to be trying to tell us not to meet, not to spend money, and not to visit certain destinations. If you work for an association, the mixed messaging may not be a new element to you, but why are the government and media so excited about penalizing and vilifying meeting planners who order from a standard hotel catering menu?

How much taxpayer money was spent on this investigation into a meeting that took place in 2010?It only took me two minutes to pull up the current catering menus online and see that the pricing today is exactly as described in the article.

Perhaps some poor choices may have been made by the GSA, but we cannot be short-sighted and allow these highly inflamed and publicized incidents to frame the intrinsic value of meeting face to face and the contributions meetings make to drive all of our businesses forward.

As always, I would love to know your thoughts, so leave a comment below!

Kent E. Allaway, CEM, CMP, Chairman of the Board
Vice President, Meetings and Trade Shows
Produce Marketing Association

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  • Jim Louis said:


    I think no one has said that there is not value in face-to-face meetings. What I am seeing here is that people did not follow the rules.

    Did they need to spend over $20,000 on mementos and “award” coins? Which they are not allowed to do by government policy.

    Did they need 2 site visits and five face-to-face planning meetings on property before the event for a cost of $136,000? (Biggest one had 31 GSA employees at it.)

    Did they need to spend $75,000 for an all day team building event including building 24 bikes for kids? (Which the planners shared their maximum price on they could pay after the team building company came in at $125,000.)

    Did they need to give a competitors bid to a vendor, which cause the vendor to match the price and get the business.

    They spend over $50,000 in food and beverages over the government per daily limit. in addition, they had a $30,000 reception that most likely did not meet the government requirements for allowing it.

    And so on.

    Adding up all of the wasted money I am sure paid for more than a few inspectors time on this. No one wants our tax money wasted. However when someone screws up. They need to be held accountable. Yes it gives us a black eye.

    However, we need to not go after the inspectors who are just doing their jobs. We need to make sure our members are trained on government meeting requirements. Hoteliers need to know what the GSA government room rate is and that it can change yearly. In addition, they need to know the per diem and MI&E rates for your city and that they can change yearly. Independent Planners and site selection companies need to know the rules as well. DMCs and support companies need to know that government meetings require and the proper pricing for the services.

    Education in our own industry should be our first priority.

  • Tony Lorenz said:

    Kent is right. Face to face is arguably the most powerful media.

    But my guess is that yet again when the meeting owner was asked to produce a report that measures the value of that spend, and they came up empty. So focus went to the spend with any evidence as to the value of that spend.

    What is measured is valued. For whatever reason that continues to baffle me for the last two plus decades, the people who steward big spend in this industry many times do not measure the value they deliver. With those measures in place this would’ve been a nonissue. The GSA officials probably didn’t have them, again.

    Lack of strategic measurement is arguably the biggest issue this industry faces. The resources in any organization gravitate to what is measured, as it should. 

  • Roger Rickard said:

    I greatly appreciate PCMA and the PCMA Chairman of the Board, Kent Allaway, CEM, CMP, for their quick and valuable response to the latest allegations of meeting planning impropriety. It is appropriate and fitting that PCMA, a leading meetings industry association, respond swiftly and in defense of the significance of meetings and the significance of the meeting profession. Kudos Kent, as you demonstrate your leadership with action. Your response citing Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is spot on. We humans need face-to-face meetings and engagement.

    As we in this industry know, hotel catering costs must remain just as competitive as any other hotel cost center if the given property is to succeed.

    We have the right to ask how much taxpayer money was spent on this investigation. I do however question the appropriateness and legitimacy of eight planning visits, spending over $130,000, for a 300 person conference. We also need to understand that from time to time people misuse funds. When this happens, we must condemn the actions of those who are entrusted with the meeting planning process and their fiduciary responsibility.

    As a meetings industry advocate, I commend Kent and PCMA for their rapid response to this story or any other story perceived to blacken the eye of the meetings industry. Keep advocating on behalf of all members of PCMA.

    with appreciation,

    Roger Rickard
    Partner, Revent LLC
    Founder, Voices in Advocacy™

  • Shannon Burke said:

    Kent – I agree with your points and also agree with the need for oversight mentioned by Mr. Rickard. However, that oversight should be swift and actionable – not almost 2 years in the making. In addition, one would think that a budget was prepared for this event – so the true question is was that accurate budget for the event and was the thought that went into that budget holistic and complete?

    Because it is a definite that the meetings industry is vital to the economy, I think it would be fitting for PCMA to host a day for association members to visit the hill to reinforce the point. Imagine the meeting planners in the DC area visiting not just the representatives from their own home districts, but partnering with hoteliers and suppliers from across the country to show the reach each planner has with the meetings they plan. It would be a very visible impact of the Economic Impact Study.

  • Jeffrey Cufaude said:

    I think it is a bit unfortunate that your opening sarcasm could get in the way of the powerful message in the rest of your commentary, particularly given that it appears that this meeting might indeed have had excessive spending in areas other than what you mention. We can meet face-to-face without potentially excessive site visits and lavish entertainment or teambuilding experiences. Do the latter have a place at our meetings and conferences? Absolutely, but perhaps a meeting for government employees funded with taxpayer dollars would have been wiser to select quality, yet more affordable options. One doesn’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to lead a few hundred people in a powerful teambuilding exercise as part of a multi-day meeting.

  • John Nawn said:

    I agree with Tony. Lack of strategic measurement is the real tragedy here. This is guaranteed to happen until meeting professionals adopt meeting measurement as standard practice, like a site visit or building a budget, and learn to ‘defend the spend.’

    The Business Value of Meetings project sponsored by AIBTM and the MPI Foundation found that only about 1% of meetings use any sort of measurement program to determine business or meeting value. That’s shameful in an industry that’s responsible for $263 billion in direct spending as Kent notes. Name me another industry where there’s so little accountability.

    There’s a tremendous amount of misunderstanding and misperceptions about what it takes to determine the business value of meetings. Those few organizations who do have measurement systems and processes in place started small and evolved over time. There’s simply no reason why more can’t follow their leads.

    For more info on the Business Value of Meetings project and to check out the tools available, check out: http://www.mpiweb.org/Portal/Business/BusinessValueofMeetings

    I’d like to see the industry work together to address what Tony rightfully notes is the greatest challenge facing the industry. I can’t think of any greater.

  • Joan Eisenstodt said:

    The response to the GSA report, fully read, is very different from these among we “rank-and-filers.”. Regardless of the taxpayer money spent, money was spent in excess and irresponsibly. Yes, losing jobs was the right thing when laws and policies were disregarded.

    My response, posted on my FB page, to NBC, the Washington Busn Journal, and at http://www.meetingsfocusforum.com, take the big picture into account: face to face are important, those who plan and manage meetings are more responsible, and the industry and meetings should not be judged by this meeting.

    On yesterday’s PCMA Educ TF call, there was an in depth discussion of the implications of the report-the mismanagement by a third part, the irresponsibility of $130k for site trips and planning meetings for a 300 person training meeting, the selection of food, and the complicit behavior of the hotel in assisting a planner acquire a very expensive purse using a hotel employee’s discount.

    Rather than dismiss this by saying WE know what food costs, let’s instead send the message that, yes, there are better ways and that PCMA is among the leaders in training people to do the most appropriate, cost effective, ethical, and learning-impactful job.

  • Michael Owen said:

    As you read through the document, you’ll see 8 “conference planning” trips with as many as 31(!) in attendance. Based on past government & press misunderstanding of how our business works, my first reaction when I hear about something like this is to find facts to dispute the perception. Even if portions of the report reflect legitimate and customary expenses, given the ethical lapses, this is hard to defend.

    I see this less as a challenge to the value of face-to-face meetings as a wake-up call around the need to have trained, experienced, ethically sound professionals in place for the planning of said meetings.

    We see three types of clients:
    1. Those who know
    2. Those who don’t know and know they don’t know, and…
    3. Those who don’t know and don’t know they don’t know

    I mentioned this to an industry pal the other day, and he called the latter “unconscious incompetence”. I think that describes precisely what caused this mess.

  • Elizabeth Zielinski, CMM said:

    With all due respect to you Mr. Allaway, I disagree with your interpretation of the Inspector General’s report. Nowhere in the report did it say that the food and beverage pricing were inappropriate, nor did it suggest that meetings are unnecessary. Rather, it said that the planners made poor choices and in some cases, openly disregarded the law governing GSA’s meetings. Yes, I do think consequences – including in some cases loss of jobs – is appropriate.

    Ultimately though, I don’t think this has to reflect badly on planners or on meetings; and it’s short-sighted of us an industry to narrow our response to that aspect. One doctor accused of malpractice does not damn the entire medical profession. I personally believe we have an opportunity as an industry to show what effective, smart, strategic planning and reporting looks like, and to demonstrate this case as an exception rather than a norm.

    With that said… I expect there will be more revelations to come regarding the misuse of the planning process. The activity described in the report suggests to me that it was endemic to the process, not a once-off.

    But limiting our responses to the food pricing and defending the hotel’s need to profit places us into the same logistical coffee-counting role that has limited us for decades. Let’s see this as a chance to move beyond it.

  • D Bradley Kent said:

    Hurray! This is a terrific conversation, and I applaud you Mr. Chairman for putting it out there. OK, to acknowledge all sides…cheating, lying, stealing, and breaking the rules is bad. We are all filled with endless overspending anecdotes.

    If I told you I did exactly what these planners did, yet we discovered a cure for cancer, my guess is that we would all agree that the end justified the means. If it was to play poker, it would be a frivolous waste of taxpayer money…not unlike the daily “ca-ching” of our national debt that nobody gets fired for and is far more impactful to each of us than 31people on a fam trip. And let’s not endeavor a conversation on ALL government employees playing by the rules…IT MISSES THE BIGGER POINT.

    It is about the value of Face to Face engagement, and measuring not just the inputs, but the outputs as well. I don’t care what pulpit one of us wants to get on about another “somebody done somebody wrong song”.

    Look at corporate America from a pretty recent EMI/Mosaic Event track study. It is. B2C example, but we all know how other consumer things touch our business lives (Facebbok, Twitter, iPads, high def…).

    Companies that measure their spend…their ROI…are forecasting to spend 12% more this year on live events and experiences than those who do not. Almost 50% more (12% vs 7.5% for those who do not measure). WHY? Because live engagements deliver greater value. If the people who are really studying it are doing more of it, then it’s a fairly safe leap that others should consider that also. 69% consider the lack of standard measurement tools a large challenge. Perhaps deploying investigators on finding a solution to measuring the output would be a better way to help build more event engagement.

    73% of respondents bought because they had used or seen used the product before they bought it. 84% of corporate marketers consider live engagements and experiences to be Important to “Critical” for their business success. IN ADDITION IT CREATES MILLIONS OF JOBS AS MENTIONED ABOVE.

    I agree with our Chairman, and as Joan and others have said, the bigger picture of face to face is critical, and we need to be speaking out against 2 year old witch hunts on meetings and continued criticism of spend decisions on face to face gatherings. This isn’t about muffingate and fam trips. Last I checked, the G8 will be held soon. I do hope they manage their expenses in line with these rules. For those who have not been around very long, PCMA used to hold some very popular and engaging face to face discussions around site inspection and fam trip abuse in its membership.

  • MaryAnne Bobrow said:

    When I first saw this come across the newswire, I had to find the original document. It can be found here: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/pdfs/040212_gsa_spending_IGreport.pdf. For those who have not read it, it is a recitations of rules violated, bidding processes ignored, and totally unethical behavior.

    The abuses found in the report (and accepted by GSA in their response) are not about the cost of food and beverage. They are not about the cost of attending a meeting. In fact, the per person cost is not necessarily out of line with what I spend to attend national industry meetings. What it IS about is a violation of the trust placed in these people to abide by and follow the dictates of government policies and procedures.

    I agree with those like Liz, Michael, and Joan who see this as unethical behavior which cannot be tolerated.

  • MaryAnne Bobrow said:

    I also agree with Jim Louis that this is NOT about the auditors. This is about people who, at least in my mind, engaged in criminal activity.

  • Tony Lorenz said:

    There are two streams to this situation:

    1) appropriate or inappropriate (activities) in the use of taxpayer funds.
    2) business impact (justification) of those funds spent on the objective of the business (GSA) spending them, and their constituents.

    We can go back/forth all day on pricing, exceeding guidelines etc., etc. Based on above my easy guess is they broke some rules, and it was their job to know/follow them, change them or work somewhere else. Some of those rules are reasonable, and some are possibly not. For a government organization spending our money, the tighter the better in my book, especially as I creep up on my 4/15 return, I am provided with a very sober reminder of the fact that the spend in government if so far out of whack in many areas. Every little bit of saving helps.

    What we can’t ignore however is that the justification of that spend is more than likely completely absent in this case. If we were to ask just the top half of the event organizers out there to produce a doc that provided some level of report on the value derived for their business by their spend; value that supports the business spending the dollars to deliver their events, we would come up empty 7 of 10 times , at least. Crazy.

    We are not talking about measurement that says we are coming in under budget, or our attendees were pleased with their experience. That is all about the activities, and basic business practice in any scenario.

    The relative absence of strategic measurement practices given the size, complexity and importance of our industry is the biggest issue facing this industry, and always has been. Its not room rates, security issues, team building fees, or mimes. Those are all activities and tactics employed/or not employed to realize a desired business result. Typically meeting organizers do not do the work to shed light on the business value of those activities.

    It simply has to change. The good news is the tools are right there to make it happen. The technology is built. Just a bit of solid basic business thinking behind that technology and the industry is infinitely more protected from this silliness than is currently the case.

    And D Bradley Kent, your call out of G8 is sooooo Brad Kent. Spot on.

  • Kent Allaway said:

    It’s very encouraging to see a healthy, solution driven conversation taking place here!

    As I stated in the original post, while some poor decision making obviously took place, my intention is not to point out all the potential mistakes involved in this situation. Instead of fanning the flames here, I acknowledge some realities, note this is just one unfortunate example and should not label an entire industry that generates significant revenues for our economic health – and most of all get people talking, just as you have, about the importance of our industry and the value of meetings. Regrettably, as we saw yesterday, the media often focuses their lens on those items/choices that are easily relatable to the average reader, such as F&B pricing – resulting in raising the public ire while increasing their page views.

    Education of our community is the cornerstone that PCMA is built upon, so I completely agree that these unfortunate circumstances bring to light opportunities to continue to educate our profession. I further believe that education on the value of F2F events and meetings needs to be brought to a wider audience that exists outside of our community. Professionals are best prepared to never face these types of challenges by being well educated in the areas many of you have already mentioned – ethics, budgets, metrics and ROI. This is PCMA’s mission and has been since day one. Unfortunately, education is like medicine, it can be prescribed by many but can only be taken by the patient.

    We’ll be hosting a webcast next week to continue this discussion with myself, our President and CEO, Deborah Sexton and our SVP of Meeting and Education, Kelly Peacy. I invite all of you to join us to continue this conversation and collaborate with PCMA on how to best bring our education opportunities to a larger audience and ensure our members are prepared to face tough questions with hard facts and solid education. I will post the details here for the webcast as soon as they are available.

    There are a lot of different opinions here (scroll down to see more). What is important is – we are having a passionate dialogue about the importance of taking a responsible and professional approach to the planning and execution of our meetings – Something everyone here points to and takes pride in… It all circles back to education – Ensuring the next generation of planners are educated on responsible standards and seasoned planners are kept abreast of the evolving expectations.

    Please continue to post your thoughts, each and every one provides a different viewpoint and fosters informal peer to peer learning and education for all!

  • Deborah Molique said:

    Roger, I agree that at first I heard the ‘muffingate’ call on this story. Yet, then I got more details about the pre-trip visits. This sounds like misdirection of budget expenditures. Sounds like they were trying to bonus their staff with trips and putting into the event/meeting budget accounting to hide it. Normally bonuses are taxed at a different tax rate and expensing it out this way seems tempting to a less knowledgeable or unethical decision maker.

    A learning reminder,

    Deborah Molique
    An experienced and exclusive third party meeting management planning company for forward thinking national and regional associations and corporations.

  • Tony Kordy said:


    I agree with all that you said – well done. This event, for those of you old enough to remember, is no different than the $600 hammer and $7000 toilet.

    What our industry urgently has needed for many years, and now more than every, is a strong presence in WDC. Its great that Joan could make a comment on NBC but why aren’t the big boys (Maritz etc) speaking out too. A high end, well connected, WDC PR firm would have had talking heads on all five news station yesterday when the story broke

    Under this administration alone this is the fourth time our industry has been slammed hard with no unified response and no lobbyist, also urgently needed, walking the halls of Congress to explain our contributions to the economy and/or value of face to face meetings. With the infamous AGI meeting it would have been nice to explain that this was an incentive for life insurance sales not a company get-a-way not to mention that AIG probably only saved the bar bill due to hotel cancellation policies. I certainly didn’t hear any response when Obama slammed holding meetings in Vegas or that the $65 or was it $85 coffee break wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow if the hotel had billed it as a $2,500 room rental and $10.00 coffee break.


  • Joern Lucht said:

    Kent, As much as I appreciate you and PCMA coming to the defense of the meetings industry, and with all due respect, I disagree in this case.

    Having read the whole report, to me at least, there is no doubt that the unethical behavior of those in charge justify not only the loss of job but hopefully they are facing civil and/or criminal charges.

    I certainly hope those people will never find a job in the meetings industry again and would appreciate if associations like PCMA express their appreciation that those “bad apples” who are the ones responsible for the bad image our industry has, have been removed from the industry.

    You said: “Good thing I don’t work there or I could be en route to the unemployment office too.”

    Well, I sure hope you did not read the full report before you made that statement. If you truly believe that those people did no wrong, I will be more than happy to pick up your taxi bill to the unemployment office.

    You are missing a real chance here to hold up good business practices but instead opt to defend criminal bahaviour? You should applaud the investigators for a due intelligence job well done and reinforcing the believe that corrupt people will be removed from positions where they can do real damage.

    Joern Lucht, Publisher, conworld.net

  • Joern Lucht said:

    To those who have the impression this is about coffee or catering pricing or some sort of conspiracy to “slam the meetings industry” I suggest you read the full report available here: http://www.gsaig.gov/?LinkServID=908FFF8C-B323-14AD-270C38936310AEBD&showMeta=0

    Reading helps and here is a response that might give some inspiration:

    ““The findings of the IG report clearly detail instances of inappropriate spending and poor decision making on the part of federal employees,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.”


  • Steve Schwartz said:

    There’s the meetings industry response to this unfortunate situation; and there’s the rest of the world’s response, the best of which I’ve seen can be found here: http://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/washingtonbureau/2012/04/03/for-gsa-what-happened-in-vegas-didnt.html

    While this is fundamentally a Federal procurement issue, it has rapidly spun into a “frivolity of face-to-face meetings” issue. GSA has already effectively shut down all meetings and travel agency-wide; that would be a lot of people who suddenly aren’t going to meetings regardless of whether they’ve already registered. Other agencies will likely follow suit.

    Locally, one of the deputies who was forced out is highly respected in our business community and has done great work in bridging the gap between GSA professionals and real estate professionals. And yet the Business Journal’s unscientific poll of whether he, among others, should have been fired is currently running 70/30 yes.

    Given the way this is spinning, the wisest course at this point might be to quickly get the word out how government attendees (and public spending) are protected from such excesses by the best practices that apparently weren’t followed in this instance. As I see it, career federal attendees aren’t likely to be coming to any conferences any time soon.

  • Nelson Fabian said:

    Very disappointing response.

    Why are you so defensive? This is a golden opportunity to stand up to the world and affirm that indeed, spending an absurd amount of money for all those planning meetings is worlds outside of the best practices that PCMA and other meeting professionals subscribe to.

    What’s also missing is that this will undoubtedly make it harder for government employees to get to the conferences they need to be attending. Those are some of the innocent people hurt by this. We should stand up for them instead of self promoting our industry.

  • Carey said:

    Kudos to Roger Dow! Once again he and US Travel are the ones to speak up. I just hope that his press release was sent to USA Today and other publications that are read by a wide audience. We talk a lot among ourselves, but like several of you said, we need to have our voice heard condemning what they did wrong while at the same time talking up our industry — exactly what Roger’s press release did.

    Joan, I hope your posts on NBC and Washington Business Journal’s sites are read by many.

    (Anne) Carey, CMP
    Meeting & Event Professional

  • Joan Eisenstodt said:

    Joern – THANK you .. exactly.

    Raise your hands if you really read and digested the report. Oh really .. not all of you? (Sarcasm intended.)

    This is a big deal and for those who think this is about US Federal Government screw-ups, think again. This stuff happens in associations and corporations all the time. If association and corp. meetings were audited in the same way, what would be found would be hair-raising. It’s good of Roger Dow to say what he did; alas, the ethics policies in our industry are not known and are aspirational v. enforceable.

    This is all dismaying. Steve S. is right – we are going to see a huge hit to meetings at which Federal Govt. employees might have been. And I hope we are going to see our industry stop the nonsense of “Meetings Mean Business” and “Keep America Meeting” redux and get down to really speaking out as an industry.

    Where is CIC in all this? (Never mind….)

  • MaryAnne Bobrow said:

    SGMP has offered a fair and impartial statement on this issue. See http://www.sgmp.org/news.cfm. They do not try to justify what cannot be justified but instead sugggest proactive conduct going forward.

  • Traci Browne said:

    Every time we have this discussion and we focus on the cost of food/services or how much business it brings the city or how valuable it is to meet with people face-to-face we do our industry a huge disservice.

    Tony first got to the real problem. Many are not measuring the results of their events. Almost no one is measuring ROI. Sure we’re measuring whether or not people thought the chairs were comfortable, the food was good, the speakers were eloquent, and the beds were soft enough. Those things are good to know but they are not what NEEDS to be measured. I want to know…as a result of your meeting what has changed. How much money did the ideas you came up with or policies you created save the company/organization? What were the results of your team building meeting? Did turnover go up or down and by what percent? Were teams more productive/accomplish more? Did spending by those teams go down or up? Are we hiring better people as a result? Etc.

    That’s what tax payers and shareholders want to know. They don’t give a rat’s … about how important it is for humans to meet face to face.

    And I don’t care what anyone says…that was way too many site visits with way too many people…they knew what they were doing…boondoggle.

  • Karen Kotowski said:

    This is a great discussion and I appreciate Kent and PCMA’s efforts. I was ducking tornados in Dallas when the story broke, but despite that here is what CIC has done.

    We reviewed the report and our take was that this was not an attack on the validity of fact to face events, rather a scathing report on government employees not following required procurement policies and just plain common sense. We felt it was best to put one of our members, best suited to speak for government meetings out in front. We prepared talking points for them to use, which resulted in Society of Government Meeting Professionals official statement. As a federation of 32 organizations, sometimes it is better to put one of our members out there, rather than speaking out ourselves, and it is a strategic decision done in consultation with our members and PR advisor. Following is the statement released by SGMP http://www.sgmp.org/news.cfm . CIC has been communicating with and supporting SGMP’s efforts in promoting the “importance of agencies having a professional meeting planner versed in the proper processes of solicitation, contract awards and event execution, as required by government policy, the procurement process and ethical conduct standards,” but clearly they are the better organization to take the primary lead on that initiative, but we stand ready to assist and engage other CIC members and resources as necessary.

    Karen Kotowski
    Convention Industry Council

  • PCMA Blogs » Blog Archive » Meeting Value and Strategic Measurement said:

    [...] been a great deal of conversation in our Chairman’s blog in the last few days about the recent news about the General Services Administration – the [...]

  • Roger Rickard said:


    Thank you for providing us with the back-story regarding the actions of the Convention Industry Council and the federation members. I applaud that SGMP (a CIC member) has taken the lead in speaking out specifically on this government planner issue. It is also noteworthy to point out the strategic decision taken in a collaborative effort of consultation between CIC members and a professional PR advisor.

    I, of all people, understand the value of speaking out and advocating the significance of the meetings profession and the meetings industry. I further recognize the strategic value in appointing the proper voice to speak out and the restraint necessary in certain situations for others not to speak out.

    It is always easy for people to criticize others while not being privy to the totality of the debate and conversation involved in the course of action taken. Thank you for clearly stating the CIC position regarding this issue and the strategic decisions taken.

    Roger Rickard
    Partner, Revent LLC
    Founder, Voices in Advocacy™

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