Meetings Canada


BEICC Continues its Work

By Les Selby, CMP, CMM

Les Selby.

On Oct. 3, the BEICC (Business Events Industry Coalition of Canada) held its First Annual Industry Night at the Intercontinental Toronto Centre Hotel.

The evening brought together reps of the coalition’s eight founding member associations, along with several interested industry professionals (including myself).

I want to compliment John Houghton, the executive VP of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, who originally suggested the phrase “Business Events Industry” to encompass all the facets of our vocation – meetings and events, trade shows, incentives, conventions and commercial gatherings.

The BEICC is probably best known for its involvement with TICO (Travel Industry Council of Ontario) last year and its work in defining the relationship between planners and the Ontario Travel Industry Act.

In truth, before the Industry Night, I was unaware of what the BEICC was doing now, nor that the group is working with regulators in other provinces to explain what the event industry is and to help define what guidelines might be reasonable.

The Industry Night featured an interesting presentation by trend expert Warren Evans, entitled “Future Trends That Affect The Business Events Industry.”

For many years, Warren has been a professional speaker, so he has witnessed how the events industry has changed over time.

Frequently humorous, Warren’s presentation accurately identified many of the issues professionals face today and suggested possible courses of action to help us increase the value we create for our clients, companies and/or members.

His presentation also acted as a starting point for those in attendance to identify and prioritize the actions they thought the BEICC should focus on.

I left the evening believing that the BEICC was concentrating on fulfilling its mission to represent the interests of the majority of Canadian business-event professionals.

I also felt that to be more successful (in advancing all of OUR interests), the BEICC needs to publicize its work more.

It was disappointing that representatives of the major industry publications did not attend Industry Night and that several associations like CSAE (Canadian Society of Association Executives) have not yet aligned themselves with the BEICC.

I think we should all be dedicated to raising the stature of our profession…and the BEICC may just be the group to unite all of us in our efforts.

For more info on the BEICC, visit their site




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5 Comments » for BEICC Continues its Work
  1. Les – I have no doubt BEICC is doing a great job to fulfill its mission. Good for them!

    Though some of your blog comments raised a red flag for me; for instance the comment ‘in advancing all of OUR interests’. If by ‘our’ you mean the classic meeting & event community and its members only, then sadly BEICC’s outcomes will be limited because their approach is too narrow and self-serving. Ouch…

    In order for BEICC to be relevant, outside its community, it needs to talk, act and be more inclusive and forward-looking. It needs to lead with ‘why’ what it has to offer is relevant to corporate organizations. Otherwise it offers no relevant value to anyone outside of the community. And here’s why I say that.

    As you know, our Agency believes an organization’s aligned event portfolio creates organizational value and is relevant to the success of today’s businesses and corporate leadership. We just don’t plan, organize and deliver event travel and hospitality logistics. Because the classic meeting & event community’s focus is inward-looking, we did not know about the event and did not attend. Not only is this a good example of the community not being more inclusive it also shows the community practicing ‘value preservation’.

    In September/October’s M&IT issue in my The Provocateur column I wrote – ‘Practicing Value Preservation is dangerous because when we only stick to what we know, we are missing out on emergent possibilities and transformational growth. When we preserve value and justify an existence what we’re really saying is ‘we offer no value’.

    It’s not about the classic meeting & event community Les. It’s about the folks the community serves outside of their own world and the value it creates for them.

    Thanks for the post!

  2. Les Selby says:

    Susan – thanks for your comment. As a regular reader and contributor to the conversation around the Industry Insider blogs, you know that I have a strong belief that the best way for meeting and event planners to earn a seat at the executive table is for them to view their roles strategically and speak the language of business (rather than focusing only on logistical management).

    Having said that, I recognize that many organizations and companies only hold a few events each year (perhaps two sales conferences and a Board retreat), so those companies will never develop a strategic approach to their event portfolio. However, those organizations still need someone to plan those events as efficiently as possible to maximize the return on the investment (and in many cases to effectively minimize costs while incorporating all the required elements). Many of those “classic” planners want to be as good at their jobs as possible (including those who find that event planning is only part of their job), so they invest some of their time in education and professional associations. Those planners and the suppliers they work with are the majority of the event community who will benefit if the BEICC is successful.

    Solid logistical management skills are in great demand (demonstrated by the fact that over 14,000 individuals have obtained their CMP designations to demonstrate their knowledge), while strategic meeting management skills are required by a much smaller marketplace (as seen by the fact that there are only about 800 professionals who have proven their mastery of event strategy by earning their CMM). All of us in the industry in Canada will benefit if the BEICC is successful in raising the image of our profession.

  3. I do understand that you believe the classic planner’s role needs to evolve to a more business function Les. And I applaud your efforts in this area.

    Here’s the thing. Those few events, you mention, will continue to be planned by executive assistants. So let me ask you. Why focus on the lowest denominator with limited new growth potential?

    Are you saying that the classic meeting and event community’s main goal is to provide education for entry level planners?

    And 14,000 classic planners with CMP designations does not (necessarily) demonstrate a ‘demand’ for ‘solid logistical management skills’. The question to ask is – are leaders/decision-makers (outside the community) requesting classic planners to obtain designations? If they are then that’s GREAT! The sad truth is that they are probably not asking.

    I believe the reason behind classic planners obtaining designations is driven more by the planners themselves and the community, because they need to justify their value to their bosses and organizations. And honestly Les, what real business value is there in these designations? When outside the community no one knows or cares what CMP is or CMM for that matter. Ouch…

    I’ve always viewed community designations as another revenue stream for associations. I’ve never heard of anyone that’s failed their CMP or CMM exams, have you? I say this with all due respect to all classic planners who have obtained their CMP and CMM designations.

    And finally, what community image is BEICC raising if the community’s goal is to provide education for entry level planners? Something the community already does.

    My view is that the community is holding on to the past, doesn’t want to evolve and has failed to answer the fundamental question – Why it exists today? And by this I mean what is its purpose outside the community? What value do CMP and CMM designations create for folks outside the community? Questions I posed in my first The Provocateur column.

    Let me be clear here Les. I am not saying that event logistics need to cease and desist. All I’m saying is that planning, coordinating and executing meeting and event logistics is extremely relevant to the classic meeting & event community and not so much to the real client and cheque book holder – the corporate leader.

    I recently heard someone say that the community’s ‘structures have become shackles’. I believe this person is right.

  4. Les Selby says:

    Susan – thanks for keeping the conversation going. I am going to answer a few of the questions you raised.

    First, a number of companies set the CMP designation as a prerequisite to obtaining an interview for a meeting planning position, so I think there is a recognition that the designation shows a mastery of event logistics. As well, many companies that are outsourcing their event planning ask potential suppliers how many CMPs and CMMs they have on staff, and if any of the staff members are active association members. As well, when I was at Aimia, one of our clients had a clause in their contract that required our company to encourage and support our staff in the pursuit of their professional designations. I don’t think that clients would encourage those designations unless at least some executives and Procurement saw a value.

    Second, the professional associations that include “classic” event planners among their members usually attempt to provide education for all levels of members. As a 20+ year member of the Toronto Chapter of MPI, I have seen that organization provide education ranging from logistical management to meeting technology to ROI analysis (and just about everything in between). From my knowledge of SITE and CanSPEP, I believe those associations also design education offerings to try and meet the meet the needs of a diverse membership.

    Finally, as you know, I believe that meetings, events and incentives must be designed to accomplish set business objectives if they are to be valued by executives and shareholders. However, I have worked with corporations that have a very “unfocused” marketing plan (with budgets and responsibilities split among many departments). In my opinion, the executives of those companies will have a real challenge developing a truly strategic approach to their event portfolios as they do not understand the marketing potential of their organizations’ events. It may be one of the roles of their current planners to help combine their events with their employers’ other strategic initiatives.

  5. There are a few points you share that I want to unpack.

    First, the real question here is who is asking about designations? Is it corporate planners seeking outside support? Or is it corporate leaders and executives with no direct line to business event management? If it’s the latter than that is great! If it’s the former, then once again the community is preaching to the converted.

    As I’m sure you know Les having worked for Aimia, third party organizations have a different strategy relevant to business events. Their business is planning, coordinating and delivering business events for clients.

    For the purpose of differentiating between third party organizations and other organizations I’m going to refer to other organizations as ‘client organizations’.

    Client organizations tend to operate in silos, of which many don’t have event management departments. Their events are spread throughout the organization. As a result client organizations have an ‘unfocused’ event portfolio approach, as you stated.

    This leads me to my final comment and brings us full circle. And that is, ‘current’ or classic planners, as our Agency refers to planners whose primary role is delivering event logistics, cannot ‘help combine their events with their employers’ other strategic initiatives.’ How can they when the focus of the community and ‘current planners’ is event logistics.

    The conversation needs to change Les. And you cannot change the conversation if the only one the community is having is about event logistics.

    I would like to hear the perspective of other ‘current planners’. So please chime in…

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