CIC's Power Presents APEX Practices For Public Parlay
The first solid products of the Convention Industry Council's long-gestating Accepted Practices Exchange project have been developed, with initial recommendations for meeting industry standards concerning terminology and post-event reporting and history ready for public discussion.
The CIC—an umbrella group of 30 meeting and convention industry associations—was expected to present the initial findings of the subcommittees charged with recommending standards this month, at the Professional Convention Management Association's annual meeting, held last week in Nashville, Tenn., and Meeting Professionals International's Professional Education Congress held this week in Honolulu. The findings include more than 2,000 recommended standard industry terms and a post-event report, which can be accessed through the CIC's Web site at www.conventionindustry.org.
The findings officially were submitted to the CIC just before Christmas.
The subcommittees now will invite public discussion on the recommendations, both at industry events and during presentations in a series of cities. Even as that process begins, said CIC president Mary Power, subcommittees are forming to address other aspects of the industry, including résumés and work orders, registration and housing, meeting site profiles, requests for proposals and, in the end, contracts.
Though it's unlikely that either meeting terminology or post-event reporting recommendations will spark a firestorm of controversy, that's by design, Power said, as the organization felt it important not only to allow the panelists to get their feet wet on topics that weren't likely to cause a great deal of debate, as contracts surely will, for example. Also, she said, this allows the industry to see how the APEX process will be conducted.
The discussion groups will be key to the entire initiative, Power said, because it will be industry professionals themselves who will have to adapt their personal habits to implement and then use standardized practices if APEX is to be successful.
"We must put personal styles away, since we all deal with a lot of the same information," Power said. That effort should be helped by a CIC data-mapping initiative that would allow two parties to electronically submit standardized information to each other, but adapt that information into their preferred formats for internal use.
The recommendations capped an active December for the CIC, which at an industry summit earlier in the month decided to craft a marketing campaign directed at corporate senior management, with the goal of convincing them that meeting cutbacks are antithetical to a growing business.
"We want to start a campaign to show Corporate America the real value of meetings, exhibitions and conventions," Power said. "It will not directed to the people who already attend meetings, but to the CEOs and CFOs who make the budget decisions. Since Sept. 11, there's more of an awareness of our industry, and we need to reinforce this message. We tend to focus on our own crowd in this industry, so we need to take this message to people who are not necessarily aware of its value."
One stumbling block in this effort, Power acknowledged, is the lack of a standard quantitative correlation between number of meetings and increased sales or revenues that the CIC could promote.
"It's hard to put a dollar figure on it since there's no formula," Power said. "But we are compiling success stories going back to companies who didn't cut meetings during Desert Storm in 1991 and what happened to them. It won't be easy, but these executives grew up before fax machines and videoconferencing, so they know the value of face-to-face contact."
Of course, the industry has been deeply impacted by the terrorist attacks, a situation Power said is not helped by paradoxical press reports. "The information doesn't balance," Power said. "The press reports that the airports are horrible now and it's hard to fly, but then they turn around and say nobody's traveling or going to meetings. That's inaccurate."
The CIC also named Mike Olson chairman of its board of directors, replacing International Association of Conference Centers president Tom Bolman, whose year-long term expired. Olson is president and CEO of the American Society of Association Executives.