Terror and disasters force agencies’ hands on liability

The ITMA is calling on agencies to rethink their crisis management policies in light of recent terrorist outrages and natural disasters around the world. The second half of 2005 saw hurricanes hit New Orleans, Florida and Mexico, bomb attacks in London and New Delhi and the looming spectre of a global pandemic of avian flu. As the UK becomes an increasingly litigious society, crisis management is high on the body’s agenda for 2006. ITMA chairman Nigel Cooper said: "If you are the agency that hires a coach in South Africa and a tyre blows out – where is the piece of paper to say that you asked for the tyres to be checked that morning? If you haven’t been through the right channels, then the person liable will be the chief executive of the event organiser. Corporate culpability will be the biggest threat to our business as the compensation culture grows." To educate the C&I industry on its responsibilities and to provide solutions on how to tackle these issues, the ITMA will be holding seminars throughout 2006. All ITMA members will be provided with example contracts and supplier questionnaires so that when they hold events abroad they are able to prove that they have gone through every possible contingency. A growing number of UK agencies have already woken up to the potential pitfalls and have implemented crisis management plans this year. BI Worldwide introduced a policy in February and Convention Travel Company (CTC) finalised its approach in the last quarter of 2005. CTC director of sales Keith Harkin said: "We implemented our policy in the face of current global threats and while the majority of corporate clients are not asking for it as yet, it is essential to stay ahead of the game."

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