For Helen Brewer, the trilogy of preparation, presentation and participation are key factors in creating a self-regulator for the industry

It was the sterling efforts of the human resources sector of the economy that set the scene some five years ago that put standards in place for their industry.

Human resource management is a complex series of requirements which have been established by the industry for the industry. Whether private or public sector HR practices, the industry has its own independent monitoring methods which ensure the standards in place are upheld.

No legislation is deemed necessary and it is noticeable that other professions have followed suit – such as accounting and auditing, forensic practices and financial consultants. The buy-in from the various sector’s main employers has been nothing short of phenomenal in each instance.

These tremendous efforts have proven conclusively that industry sectors can realise the inherent weaknesses within their professions and set standards in a responsible self-regulatory manner without government intervention.

In its simplest descriptive form, standards give us a yardstick on which to base success. The meetings and events industry needs to follow suit and should implement its own professional planner standards.


Back in 2014, the MICE Academy was approached by independent planners as they wanted their concerns regarding the industry’s method of doing business with third parties addressed. Their main issues revolved around three specific aspects, namely:

  • Procurement
    A preferred suppliers list of planners is generally based on a set of criteria which does not necessarily focus on the actual planning requirements for that specific type of undertaking. Hence the fallout in meeting the deliverables even with a service level agreement in place is disappointingly high.
  • Proposals
    The manner in which proposals are requested from small business undertakings can be onerous in the extreme with too many instances of acquiring the ideas and themes without regard to the planner’s possible intellectual property rights.
  • Payment structures
    An emotive aspect of planning which continues to witness increasingly savvy end-users and even smarter venues squeezing the independent planner into more time and motion without adequate remuneration on the one hand and questionable payments on the other hand.

The need for a buyers’ circle accord

With the notions of the differing types of supplier and service inputs, it is deemed essential that an approval body consisting of the organisations with a sizable annual MICE spend are the prime industry decision makers and indeed beneficiaries to be the signatories to the Professional Planner Standards.

These signatories will be a selection of buyers who are corporate and association end-users with a collective annual spend in excess of R1 billion. They will be collectively known as the Buyers’ Circle.

Is this a watershed year in which the competent prosper and the less experienced are exposed? The MICE Academy’s prediction is that it is unlikely to set the world on fire due primarily to many entrenched relationships and the luck of sometimes getting the planning on target for no specific reason of standards or not.

Yet it is more than likely the groundswell of Professional Planner Standards implementation being watched closely by our international colleagues with similar concerns. In turn, it is predicted the bottom line of establishing standards will ultimately impact on the entire industry.

Let us not forget that the smallest and perhaps less significant aspect of the MICE pie is the actual planning component which in many instances is a mere small line item sometimes lost within the midst of vast commissions.

Yet without the initial decision to have a MICE gathering the real money-spinners of multi-billion rand amounts spent annually on travel, accommodation, meals, transport et al would be greatly depleted.

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* Helen Brewer from The MICE Academy, is an independent contributor and articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Planner.


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