A Meeting Planner’s Response to the IRS Meeting Scandal

irs-calling-uncle-samAs a Meeting Planner, I watched media coverage of the recent IRS meeting debacle with great disappointment and frustration.  Once again, my profession and industry fell victim to media hype and misperception due to the actions of charlatans claiming to be meeting planners.

In recent years, there have been a number of similar stories involving financial irresponsibility and unprofessional conduct (e.g. AIG, GSA, Tyco).  While no professional planner will defend the poor decisions and financial excesses of these cases, it’s unfortunate that a few bad apples have had such a negative impact on the public’s perception of the meetings industry.  The majority of the planners I know are experienced professionals who work very hard to stay abreast of the latest techniques in communication, strategy, business ethics and adult learning.

Whether a meeting is paid for with private or public funds, conscientious meeting planners focus on maximizing business outcomes while managing expenditures to achieve the greatest possible return on their client’s investment.  The days of extravagance and uncontrolled spending passed decades ago and no respectable planner would design an event like the IRS meeting.  Star Trek and dance videos?  Those strategies and techniques died out in the late 80s and will never return.

Of course, there are probably a few ignorant and lazy dinosaurs that cling to these outmoded techniques, but they should be regarded as snake oil salesmen who prey on the ignorant and inexperienced.  We can only hope that they retire or lose their business to one of the many professional meeting planners that practice fiscal restraint and achieve measurable business results for their clients.

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