The following appears in the print issue of our cover story, "What Would You Do?" this month. It's a conversation among meeting professionals about industry ethics, and we encourage you to continue the conversation in the comments section below.
Can you use points for personal rewards?
DEBRA BARRETT, CMP, senior manager of meetings and conventions, American Academy of Dermatology: Points should not be used for personal gain.
CATHY BREDEN, CAE, CMP, COO, International Association of Exhibitions and Events: Employees can use points from their American Express cards, but don’t advertise it.
Would you accept a room upgrade while running an event?
JOAN EISENSTODT, founder, Eisenstodt Associates: Maybe. It depends on what the upgrade meant and if others (the client, for example) were given the same. Let’s say that they upgraded me to a “business plan” room that included phone calls that would save my client (or employer) money, or that the upgrade was to a floor with free breakfast, saving my client or employer the money for breakfast. In any case, I’d clear it with the client/employer before taking it and I’d get the approval in writing.
BREDEN: I would not ask for it, and I don’t ever expect it. When I am upgraded, it is a nice surprise. It’s silly to put me in a suite—I’m never in it! We receive some nice perks in this business, but one should never expect or ask for them.
BARRETT: I feel it is up to the hotel if they want to or not, I would never demand it and have denied it especially if I have VIPs who should get the room. I once had a hotel yell at me that I didn’t have my boss on the VIP list—I told them that he is not a VIP. However, if the hotel feels he is, that would be up to them.
Could you accept a round of golf or spa service?
GAYLE WEISMAN, CMP, senior conference planner, IEEE Communications Society: I can. After all, how am supposed to know if it is worth anyone’s time to use the spa if I haven’t used it?
BREDEN: Yes I could, but I don’t play golf. If it’s part of a package we receive from a property and my attendees are offered it as well, I would accept (again, this is me personally).
EISENSTODT: I would not. And I think this again depends on the purpose: Is it to experience the course because your meeting participants will use it while they are there? Is it offered to the client, CEO or others as well? Is it approved in writing by the client or CEO?
BARRETT: No, but I don’t golf and if I did it would depend [on] if my group was a big golfing group, then it might be worthwhile to try out the courses so you can advise the group.
Would you bring a guest on a FAM if you were invited to do so?
BREDEN: Me personally, probably not.
EISENSTODT: Again, it depends on the client’s or company’s ethics or operational policies, the purpose of the FAM, if guests were asked and why I was going. If the ethics or operational policy is silent, I’d look at the CMP policy (if I were a CMP) and I’d talk with my boss or client to clarify the purpose of the FAM: what I would be doing while there, my guest’s involvement and more...and get it all in writing!
BARRETT: We are not allowed to participate in FAM trips.
Can you accept a fruit basket in your room?
BARRETT: Yes, most times you’re up very early and may not get to eat until after everyone is into the meeting, so that banana at 5 a.m. might be your only nourishment [for hours].
EISENSTODT: I’d have disclosed, up front, before the trip, whether or not I was permitted to accept anything and if I thought there was a chance of something being sent, I’d say, “Thanks but no thanks” and explain why.
Can you take ink home for your printer if you’re working from home or use office equipment for personal use?
BREDEN: Yes, we reimburse our telecommuters for their office supplies.
EISENSTODT: It depends here on the policy, what’s in writing and how permission is given or not.
WEISMAN: There have been times I’ve made copies in the office because we have to travel so much for this job I don’t have time on my own to do some of the things I need to do.