By Fernando Compean
While on my educational trips around the world I perceive a relentless quest to achieve high professional standards that induce a parallel understanding of what service is supposed to be. I also see the human and cultural differences that oppose the intention of achieving these aspirations. We strive to reach a similar level of understanding of the specialized positions and jobs in our industry, by installing the right skills in our junior staff and strengthening our professional habits, but we leave the human part to personal intuition… unfortunately not everyone is equally intuitive.
For instance, recently in my travels to Asia I noticed sharp differences among the nations of this region, just as I have seen in Latin America. All differ regarding the process that turns events into good, regular or very bad.
Imagine this scenario: the most common complaint among meeting planners is the slow responsiveness of suppliers (mainly by hotels). This is aggravated by the requirement to get all the answers faster due to decreased planning time. The second complaint of the organizers is the lack of candor by the supplier.
There are plenty of studies that give us insight into the cultural differences. We know that in Latin America our sense of time is almost opposite to the Swiss or Germans, and just opposite theirs when compared to their neighbors, the Italians. These cultural differences in people are almost impossible to change. The same is true when referring to the dissimilarities on how culture addresses the sometimes harsh (and necessary) things to say. In Japan, for example, it is difficult to contradict or tell customers cruel realities. They simply do not want to hurt our feelings; there is much respect for people. While in the United States people just come out and say it and no feelings are involved.
In Latin America we have a natural inclination to please others, therefore we are very flexible and sometimes even magicians of improvisation, but in other countries if it was not planned, it is difficult to cannot change.
On the one hand we want to be equal, and on the other hand we have different philosophies of life and assign different values to our actions. Some involve feelings; others put all the weight on achieving the goals even if it means stepping on some toes.
The lesson I gather from this is that we should discover, understand and respect the culture, traditions and customs of our clients but also of participants and providers from one city to another, from one province to another and from one country to another. In my view excellence in events happens when we mix everything in one basket, including the human factor, and not just fulfill what the customer requests, or to be an ace in logistics.
As meetings and events professionals, we have been successful working and learning the technical aspects. Perhaps it is time to concentrate and focus more on the human side, without leaving decisions solely to intuition. Excellence of future events will only be achieved if we have a balance between the technical and the human elements.
About Fernando Compean:
Fernando Compean, CITE, CMM, CMP, CMS, CIS, CCM is the owner of two prestigious companies dedicated to Tourism and Meetings and Incentive Travel. For 25 years he has owned and managed one of the very few Incentive Houses in Mexico, Avanti Meetings and Incentives a specialized company dedicated to the marketing of events and Mundo Editorial, S.A de .C.V. , editing and trade publications, tools for the industry. With over 43 years in the MICE industry, he is considered one of the most knowledgeable and influential leaders in tourism in Mexico and the most influential in the Meetings and Events Industry of Mexico and Latin America. Fernando is also the founder and developer of the SITE Certified Incentive Specialist program.