Government Connections - Winter 2013 - (Page 36)

THE MEETING MINUTE Lead Spam and the Commoditization of the Meetings Industry By Doreen Ashton Wagner Greenfield Services Inc. THERE IS A disturbing trend starting in both the U.S. and Canada: the increasing number of multiple leads sent to hotels and CVBs, for the same piece of business, from competing third-party planners and site selection companies, often using multiple electronic channels. This is what we’ve come to refer to lead spam. It’s a situation that creates confusion amongst different sales contacts (for 36 GOVERNMENT CONNECTIONS | Winter 2013 instance at a brand’s group desk and at property level), wastes time and often generates unnecessary work. I see it as one more unfortunate move towards the commoditization of hotels, CVBs and even other meetings industry suppliers. Soon, if suppliers don’t wake up, organization will do away with sales managers and just replace them with people who can process electronic leads. GONE will be the relationships so many meeting professionals love this industry for. Scary scenario, isn’t it? But what can be done about the situation? I questioned Kristi Casey Sanders, VP Creative/Chief Storyteller for Atlanta Metropolitan Publishing, publisher of Plan Your Meetings, billed as “a free educational and social resource for meeting and event planners.” Is it ethical for thirdparty planners or site selection firms to field RFPs if they have not been given the mandate by the end user? I’m not quite sure how this happens, but I don’t see any gray area on this point. If you were not hired by the planner to source their meeting, intercepting the business and acting as a representative is confusing at best. I realize that the proliferation of non-professional planners in this industry may make some of them easy prey for this kind of poaching, but third-parties and site selection firms need to be direct about their intentions. If they are going to send out RFPs on a planner’s behalf, the planner should be contracted to them so they understand they shouldn’t be asking other people to do the same thing. Do end users – corporate, association and government groups – realize what burden this issue is placing on suppliers, potentially increasing the cost of doing business? I don’t think they do, unless they’ve been in an educational session that

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Government Connections - Winter 2013

President’s Letter
Editor’s Letter
Going Places
Dieting on a Per Diem
Plan Green
Education Edge
Ethics and Site Visits
Why the Government Should Hire Qualified, Professional Meeting Planners
Supplier Strategy
Good to Know
That’s Technology
Conference Connection
Travel Tips & Trends
Membership News
SGMP Nation
The Meeting Minute
Advertisers’ Index

Government Connections - Winter 2013