I've been in this industry for about 20 years, but it's only been in the last several months where I've been embarrassed and disappointed in it.
Yes, by and large, it's a great industry. We've come together in tough times and have survived 9-11, swine flu and a plethora of storms, weather issues and natural disasters. On a big scale, we have big hearts.
On a more local level, a more personal level, a one-on-one level, I've seen ugliness, rudeness, meanness and even hate rear it's nasty head. And it really let me down. I've known planners over the years that have been a bit self-centered or maybe even egotistical, but when you're constantly wined and dined by suppliers, it's easy to think you're All That. A small reason for getting a big head.
I've been on destination familiarization (FAM) trips where planners sneak off and spend their days at the pool instead of attending site visits. Sometimes with family members they've stowed away. I've heard planners badmouth their hosts while at the same time accepting their hospitality. And I know planners that rarely, if ever, return a phone call from a supplier.
But when you've spent years building relationships and nurturing business and just being present, it's shameful to find out that so many of your colleagues don't care. Or say they don't have time. Or believe they're too important to reply. In one case, a planner, on a phone call with a supplier, whom the planner had known for about 10 years, used the F word, commanding the supplier to never call again.
Would there ever be a scenario that a supplier - whose livelihood depends on those calls - deserves to be yelled at like that? If so, I'd love to know what it is.
It comes down to simple, honest respect and integrity. We're planners. Suppliers know we're busy. Fine, you don't have time to return the call. Okay, you have no intention of giving them any business. All you need to do is let them know that, even if by email or carrier pigeon. They'll be okay with it. It's not the answer they want, but at least it's an honest answer.
And you've not only treated them like a decent human being, but you acted like one, too.