Is Being a No-Show Unethical?

I was going to count the number of ethics blogs I've written for Meetings Today.

To that, I would add the classes I've taught solely about ethics just in or for our industry and those that had an ethical component. To all of those, I would add the posts I've made to the former MIMList, on Facebook, on ASAE's Collaborate, and all over the "interwebs" and before that, the conversations about ethics I've had with colleagues and clients just to get an idea of the number of discussions it takes to make ethical behavior in our industry stick.

Then I thought "why bother" counting, or even why bother writing again about the inexplicably rude behavior of my industry colleagues?

Except you know what? This Albert Schweitzer quote is in my email signature—"The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity with other human beings."and I'm consulted about ethical issues all the time by colleagues (vendors and planners, association and corporate executives) and thought that giving up now would be, well, giving up. And I really believe we have an obligation to each other. And I'm still fuming!

What happened this time to cause the anger?

Last week, I helped deliver content at a two-day client program for venue sales people. I was excited about the cool learning that the client and I, with two other speakers (Izzy Gesell and Richard Green) designed and delivered. The hosting venue did a great job of supporting our design and wanted to show off to their competitors and to potential clients. 

The client decided that because we were in D.C., it was a great opportunity to involve meeting planners for a half day. Planners, in the client's database and thus not strangers to the company or its mission, were invited. All the sessions were approved by the Convention Industry Council (CIC) for CMP credit for this free (including breakfast, lunch and learning) program.

Forty meeting planners responded yes.

Two days before the event, the planners were sent information and were called to confirm their participation and again were given a phone number to call in case of  a last minute emergency that would keep them from attending. A few canceled when called.

Day of the event? The no-show rate was more than 40%!  

That's right. A 40% no-show rate! 

The costs involved included:

  • Food and beverage charges absorbed by the client.
  • Food waste by those who purport to want sustainable meetings.
  • Content design disruption.

Oh I know, it's not the first nor will it be the last event in our industry where no-shows occur.

Here's the thing: I re-read the CMP Standards of Ethical Conduct and Policy in which I saw that the CMPs who didn't attend last week (or who no-show at other events) violated any number of points. The client will advise CMP of those who did not attend so that perhaps this last point"To be truthful in all information provided to the CIC in all applications and recertification applications at all times."—won't be violated. But should the names of those with CMP after their name be reported to the CMP body that determines if someone has violated the policies?

Why is no-showing at industry events accepted behavior? Were there no-shows at IMEX15 for individual events? Appointments? Is it really "just the cost of doing business" and our industry is going to continue to stand for it? If 40% of the people you invited to your meetings and who made hotel reservations were no-shows, might you be charged attrition? Should no shows at industry events for which there is no charge be charged to cover the lost expenses?

Yep, I'm livid ... again ... and you should be too. You should be embarrassed that your colleagues did this and will again. And you, reading this now, may be among those who didn't show last week in D.C. for this event. And you may shrug and say "oh well" and figure it makes no difference. Or perhaps you'll write me an email and tell me what caused you to violate your word and your commitment.

To those who did show up, thank you and thank you for honoring your commitment. Mensch, each of you!

Got comments? Below or email me at If you'd like your comments posted anonymously, I'm glad to do so.

Like all my blogs and additional content, the views expressed are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Meetings Today or its parent company.

Posted by Joan L. Eisenstodt

Follow Joan on Twitter: @joaneisenstodt

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