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February 20, 2011

John Hooker:What will you be massaging in 2011?

The founder of jhcp suggests hard times can lead to a drop in moral standards – so how clear is your conscience.

As we enter another year, one of the hot topics that will enter into the events vocabulary will be the UK Anti-Bribery Act passed by Parliament in April 2010, which is likely to be implemented in 2011. More will surely follow on this, along with the implications for the events industry once the finer detail has been raked over by the legal eagles.

However, there have been some other practices that apparently continue to take place, which may not be bribes, but do compromise the integrity of the profession – assuming we are all working towards being professionals and not cowboys or deft market traders (who would want to be called a banker these days?)

In 2010, Requests For Information were very much in vogue, which sought to bring clarity around the working practices and pricing models of agents and destination service suppliers alike. All nice and clear providing you read the small print. So now everyone is working for the greater good of the ultimate end user, a more collaborative approach being assumed.

So there were some interesting tales of woe coming out of 2010 where suppliers, in particular, we're feeling compromised. Professional standards and the need to hang onto the client becomes the conflict.

Is it right to ask a destination supplier to source prostitutes during the World Cup? (Was the football that bad?). Should home furnishings be shown as ‘teaser gift’ sample items? I have heard of one individual who made seven inspection visits to a certain destination and furnished their home as a result. They may well now be working in IKEA as the deception eventually caught up with them and the long arm of the law got involved.

So how does the supplier feel when they are constantly told they must slash their costs yet see a £80 massage put on the room bill? Clearly asking for lower costs takes its toll.

Does this not start to smell of the UK MP’s expenses scandal of 2010? Already we are seeing disgraced MPs and members of the House of Lords in the UK tried in court – and they thought, at one time, they were above the law.

In times of economic hardship, insurance claims seem to rise. In times when salaries are frozen it could create temptations and people are only human after all. So maybe it is time to reflect on what is good practice; how open and honest is your working environment and how can you ensure that compromise, when it comes to ethics, does not become your undoing? It is not worth losing a client or a job for the sake of a hot towel wrap or teaser sample. 

So before you ask the supplier, whether an agent or destination supplier, to hide the helicopter ride over the city because you either wanted the experience or were out to impress, remember that someone, somewhere, is going to have to pay for it. We are in for some interesting times when it comes to the interpretation of ‘collaboration’. 

John Hooker is the founder of jhcp.

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