FIRST OFF: Finding a definition beyond the jargon

Can you tell your RCR from your RFP? And do you know the difference between a DMC and a PCO? Most industries use jargon to some extent, but it seems the conference and incentives sector makes a particular habit of it, despite the fact it's likely to confuse.

Witness the numerous official bodies that C&I operators can join: in the UK alone the ITMA, MIA and CEA can all legitimately claim to represent the industry's interests. On an international level ICCA, SITE and MPI appeal to a broad cross-section of organisers.

Historically, this industry has always been highly fragmented, characterised by the co-existence of hundreds of individual agencies, many of which specialise in just one aspect of the business.

Perhaps this comes as no surprise in a sector that has trouble deciding how to label itself: the meetings market, C&I or even MICE? Little wonder that an industry without one approved designation often finds it hard to put on a united front when it comes to lobbying the government. It is welcome news, then, that yet another body, the JMIC (Joint Meeting Industry Council) has devised a common definition of the work this industry undertakes, one that can be used when negotiating with the legislature and interacting with the corporate community (see p11).

The JMIC statement outlines the fact that the growth of the global meetings industry up to 2010 is predicted to be faster than any other sector, yet - ironically - highlights at the same time that it is the world's least recognised economic sector. What's in a name? Quite a lot it would seem as far as acknowledgement of worth and due respect are concerned.

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