At the beginning of my career, entering the meetings and events industry was intimidating. It was, and still is, a competitive industry full of big personalities. Some people were much more successful than I was. Some of the things that seemed so hard to me, appeared so easy to others. There were cliques and friend groups that I wasn’t a part of, and the industry felt enormous. I was a tiny piece of this huge community. As the years pass (I don’t like to say how many), the industry seemingly shrunk. For me, the line between supplier, agency and client blurred. Meaningful partnership became prevalent. The difference between a junior planner and the CEO of a company has diminished. In the past, I was often awestruck at the senior leadership of big companies, but now I believe we entered a more egalitarian time.
I believe the idea that one person or group has all the answers is ridiculous. Some of the largest companies in our industry are faltering, despite their incredibly smart leaders and best efforts. As I was recently complaining about competitors slashing prices, one of our board members said to me, “A great deal from a company that won’t be around to service their client is NOT a great deal.” Suddenly, I saw our competitors in an entirely new light. I realized that right now, no one knows for sure what the right next step is. We are all strategizing as we move forward. We are fortunate to have very smart and experienced advisors, but our crystal ball is foggy.
Now is the time for our industry to come together and support each other. Many years ago, we called our suppliers “vendors.” While agencies are scrounging for every nickel of business, vendors are even more challenged. An agency’s success depends on amazing vendors. An agency’s reputation also depends on how they treat their vendors. Once we realized that our success is completely reliant on theirs, we changed the vernacular to “partner.” Have you ever received a cold call from a vendor and quickly tried to get off the phone? Then, when you meet that vendor at a networking event, everything changes. They become a person, an acquaintance and maybe even a friend. All of a sudden, the same phone call is welcomed.
There is some formidable competition in the meetings and events industry, and MGME is proud to be named among the top. Over the years, I have developed relationships with a lot of our competitors. I encourage you to do the same. At the beginning of the relationship, there is always an undertone of caution. Your conversation is a dance of carefully crafted statements to hide any weaknesses until one person points out a flaw in their own business, a lost client, or an employee issue that keeps them up at night. This is when the relationship changes and both parties become candid about the issues they face within their business. This opens the risk of losing a small competitive edge, but a huge potential for gain in learning, professional growth and friendship.
Now is the time for our industry to pull together. Now is the time to support each other however we can. We will still compete over our piece of the pie in our industry, but we must remember that this is the hospitality industry. None of us get to where we are alone. Not only should we feel comfortable asking for help, but we should also feel an obligation to help. When I hear of a competitor struggling or going under, I am saddened as it is a sign of a changing world. Damage to our industry helps no one in the long run.
There is a very bright light at the end of the tunnel, and we will be stronger as a community if we stay together until we reach that light.
Chief Executive Officer
McVeigh Global Meetings and Events