‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’.  

Certainly not in the event/meeting planning industry. Just watch the expression on the venue manager’s face after his crew have set up for 300 cinema style seating (chairs only) to be told that cinema in this client’s eyes is actually tables & chairs!

Definitions are a source of most of the misinterpretations and misunderstandings in the frenetic MICE world.

Pseudo MICE experts will glibly speak of planning solutions for the entire corporate and association industry sectors.  Lumping these two distinctly different MICE sectors together as a globular whole is a one-way ticket to a series of challenges to be avoided.

The corporate planning requirements are virtually the opposite of the association planning needs. There are few exceptions. For a start – corporate attendance is mandatory while association attendance is voluntary. This fact alone alters the basic requirements as well as the entire process of encouraging individuals to attend.

Many an enterprising collective body has attempted to standardise terms and phrases yet with limited success.

Many an enterprising collective body has attempted to standardise terms and phrases yet with limited success.  For example – the American market orders their conference coffees by the gallon while avoiding the words such as beds and/or accommodation in favour of sleeping rooms.

Booths instead of exhibition stands seem to be preferred in Europe and indeed the Americas.

The actual interpretation when one compares the South African terms with the first world terms may not be the same.

Fortunately South Africans are adaptable… to a point.

Even the word PCO has different interpretations, which is mainly due to this acronym not being determined and explained by the appropriate industry associations that have same of these individuals as part of their member base.  It is no wonder that the major corporate and association decision-makers contract with event architects, independent planners, brand activators, marketing consultants and the like – as their tasks and roles are well-documented. Securing the services of a PCO who’s roles/tasks vary dependent on the particular PCO being interviewed at the time can be too complex for an unsuspecting potential client.

There is however a glimmer of hope.  In the case of a distinct possibility for misunderstanding such as the schoolroom set-up – rather put in brackets that it means tables & chairs. In other words, be clear with terms by providing a brief explanation.

Similarly with PCO services; detail the actual tasks together with the sub-tasks in each instance.  In tandem is the practical, hands-on ability – with examples – to perform the task/s listed.

The future of MICE terminology clarification remains in the hands of the industry’s stakeholders which will manifest into a profession rather than just a job.

READ: Learn the lingo: Four different types of virtual events