Gray’s Say

Peter Gray, an independent Motivation Consultant, presents a regular Business Events News feature on current issues in the Conference and Incentive industries.

OVER the Christmas holidays I had some disturbing news; that someone I have known and respected as an ethical and efficient conference and incentive operator has left the industries he has known so well for a good many years. His reasons were plain enough. He felt that there were too few people with real integrity left in these industries; that in spite of the illegality many were accepting undeclared commissions or providing ‘under the table’ marketing support, as a result of which many clients are being ripped off.

At the same time I also heard about another operator becoming embroiled in a disagreement with a client who was demanding a full refund for a holiday because she found the hotel not to her liking…although she managed to stay on for the length of time she had booked. The hotel agreed to refund her the cost of the accommodation but unfortunately couched this in such a way as to suggest that the client was getting a full refund of everything!

We hear almost daily about tourists who demand upgrades from hotels with the threat that if they’re not forthcoming they will send a negative report to Trip Advisor.

What has happened to ethical behaviour these days? Does everything come down to the common denominator – money?

I can recall long discussions at AIA conferences (the forerunner of the IA) about incentive operators who accepted undeclared commissions – something that has been illegal in Australia for many years. I know of many who were solidly against this practice but who were in the forefront of those who did it. Whatever happened to being honest with clients? In my book, ‘honest’ means free of deceit, being truthful and sincere. No one should question that it is right for an incentive practitioner or a PCO to charge a management fee that reflects the effort they have put in to a project. However, the ‘greed is good’ philosophy comes into play – from both sides – and some find it satisfying to put one over on a client, without ever thinking that the client could be doing exactly the same.

After many years of saying they’re going to do it, it’s about time that some (not all by any means) in the conference and incentive industries cleaned up their act.

Peter Gray can be contacted at