Four (More) Ethical Challenges Every Event Organizer Will Face

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Like every industry, event management has its fair share of moral dilemmas. There’ll always be the temptation to misrepresent your services to a client or over promise on something; the urge to abuse rewards and incentives to increase attendance or make overly-extensive use of familiarity trips. What separates the poor event planners from the professionals is that the latter group resists these urges.

They act with integrity, no matter what roadblocks they may face.

Of course, taking the high ground tends to be a lot easier when you know what sort of tests your morality’s going to be put through. That’s why last year, I published a piece detailing some of the most common, significant ethical challenges an event management professional might face in their career. Though it touched on some of the heavy-hitters, it was by no means comprehensive.

So today, I’m going to expand on the topic a bit. We’re going to go over a few more ethical pitfalls and moral chin-scratchers you’ll potentially encounter over the course of your career. 

Little White Lies

“The slickest way in the world to lie is to tell the right amount of truth at the right time – and then shut up” – Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. White lies, especially where they pertain to competitors, have a tendency to blow up in your face. Spectacularly.

I get it. Really, I do. When you’re facing a formidable competitor, and you’ve a client who’s asking about event management agencies in your city, it can be tempting to lie by omission. Telling them only of vendors you personally prefer, of venues you’ve exclusive contracts with, and of agencies that work in close association with your own.

It’s also an incredibly foolish one. See, here’s the thing about doing business in any modern industry – consumers aren’t stupid. Your clients are equipped with more research tools than at any other point in history, meaning that if you lie either blatantly or through omission, any customer can probably find you out.

Then you’re left with egg on your face, because honestly, who wants to work with an event organizer for whom honesty is a foreign concept?

Making Things Personal

“When you lose your ego, you win. It really is that simple.” – Shannon L. Alder

I’ve said in the past that one of the most significant traits of a successful event management professional is that they’re able to leave their ego at the door. They’re neither a braggart nor a drama queen; they work efficiently, professionally, and – most importantly – impartially. That isn’t to say they aren’t warm and personable, of course.

They simply don’t let their own personal desires, need for recognition, or temper get the best of them.

“In order to act ethically, travel and event planners must remain impersonal,” reads an article on Chron. “While it helps business relationships to behave in a cordial and professional manner, a planner must not involve their personal interests when working for a client. To be focused on the values of good planning, agents should not take kickbacks or expect personal benefit from interactions; unless asked, they should keep their individual beliefs to themselves, and instead fulfill the needs of their paying customers.”

Volunteer Welfare

“When people show loyalty to you, you take care of them.” – John Cena

As an event manager, it’s your job to take care of the people who work with you. Your volunteers and partners are the lifeblood of your events, after all; without them, everything falls apart in short order. With that in mind, you owe it both to them and to yourself to ensure they’re well taken care of from a legal standpoint.

That means ensuring they’re properly trained, drafting up a volunteer policy that adheres to the law, and providing them with all the amenities they require to do their jobs. Don’t neglect even one of these steps. It won’t end well. Whenever possible, go above & beyond by offering perks and help make their job easier and even more enjoyable. 

Reputation Management

“He who walks with wise men will be wise. But the companion of fools will be destroyed.” – Proverbs 13:20

Last but certainly not least, you’ve one last job as an event organizer from an ethical perspective – recognizing when the people you work with lack integrity, and knowing when to separate from them as a result. Regardless of how good a deal you’re getting for a venue or how much of a steal a particular supplier’s prices are, you don’t want to be seen doing business with people who are dishonest or unethical. That reflects poorly upon you as an event planner, and by association it reflects poorly upon your event management brand and the brand of the clients you work with.

On the other hand, if you work only with esteemed vendors and brands, that’ll reflect well on your organization – people will see how reputable your associates are, and trust you all the more for it.

Closing Thoughts

As with the first list, this is hardly a comprehensive account of all the moral challenges you’ll face in event management. Think of it more as a primer. Now that you’ve read through it, you’ll have a better idea of how your integrity might be tested in the long run – and a better idea of how to pass those tests with flying colors.