Paying the true economic cost of industry events

Gill Cardy

I’ve been spending too long consulting my dictionary these days. I am forced to enquire as to the meaning of ‘inducement’ and learn that it is defined as ‘a thing that persuades or leads someone to do something’, or more succinctly, ‘a bribe’.

The explanatory text makes quite clear that I give you the bribe or the inducement to persuade you do to something. The direction of travel of the bribe and the resulting action is most important. The person giving the bribe expects me to behave (or behave differently) as a result of receiving the bribe or the inducement.

So, when I invite someone from a company to speak at our next event, and I at the same time invite four other companies to speak on exactly the same terms it would be me who needs to offer the bribe or the inducement to get them to turn up. Or, it is they who give me the money to persuade me to put them on the agenda?

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It cannot be an inducement for me to tell five speakers, whom I have already selected to attend our event, to share the day delegate costs between themselves equally. There is no profit margin on our part, while the cost to those companies mean they are offered the opportunity to address up to 25 people and network with them throughout the day for around £25 a head.

It is not a bribe, or inducement, because the money and the action are flowing in the wrong directions and at the wrong time.

Moreover, it is a simple cost-sharing exercise which is considerably more cost-effective than the costs of meeting those same 25 advisers outside this event.

The suggestion that the speaking slot is 12.5 per cent of the agenda should mean that they only pay 12.5 per cent of the costs, ignores the benefits of being available to answer questions about their products and services throughout the day.

It is also ludicrous that when some companies still invite providers to pay £60,000 towards the costs of their ‘training’ programme, and when others invite them to pay £5,000 a day towards ‘due diligence’ on their product offering, I am having to argue about how providers should pay the true economic costs of being at our event.

And the news following our interaction that a ‘de minimis’ limit to such discussions is being considered does not resolve this fundamentally flawed interpretation of the inducements rules.

Gill Cardy is network development director of Validpath