February 2005 - Per Inquiry

Dislodging a Complaint

By Rick Petry

When I explain to people outside our industry that I have the privilege of serving on a board of directors that meets in sunny Miami Beach, the south of France, and even amid the lunacy of Las Vegas, they typically ask, “Where do I sign up?” Whether these conferences are a boon to your business or a boondoggle, the fact is: We get to visit some pretty cool places, no doubt a reflection of the fact that this is a business where one’s joie de vivre and ambition are woven together as tightly as the backend and profitability of a continuity campaign.

When planning these affairs and their locales, ERA has to grapple with a dichotomy among its membership that varies from successful entrepreneurs who expect the best to conscientious employees feeling the pinch of fiscal austerity. Imagine if this was your decision. Perhaps one way to justify the expense of our new meeting place for the Mid-Winter conference-the fabulous Ritz-Carlton in South Beach-is to explain to your management that the amount you spent on taxi vouchers shuttling from Key Biscayne to this art deco Mecca in past years is enough to offset at least one night’s lodging.

If your travel is subject to the oppression of the unrealistic per diem, alas, I feel your pain. As the result of a new corporate travel policy, Miami, according to page 13 of 20 of the new policy I must adhere to, now prescribes a hotel budget that qualifies me for a teepee in the sand at Nikki Beach for two hours.

Sarcasm aside, when you stay at the trade show’s host hotel, you’re helping to fulfill ERA’s financial obligation to the resident hotelier, not to mention the chance to play six degrees of separation in the lobby bar. Recently, the European Board was determined to move the summer conference to Cannes. However, the financial incentives proposed by the Monte Carlo-based venue were so compelling the leadership decided that the Cote d’Azur was no Cannes do. This means that ERA members will simply have to settle for a promontory jutting over the turquoise Mediterranean.

As this year’s treasurer, I can assure you that the profits generated from these conferences are designed to do one thing: fortify ERA so that it can serve the best interests of the membership. These objectives include establishing self-regulation, which will stave off government intervention and ensure our industry’s long-term vitality. In addition, the association is determined to help grow this most accountable of advertising mediums, which will, in turn, help participants grow their businesses and improve the overall image of the industry. This publication is but one example of how ERA is striving to establish the legitimacy of direct marketing.

To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, “You can please some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time…” Well, you get the rest. Perhaps embracing that adage is something we would all benefit from. Sleep on it. Perhaps you’ll wake up with the same realization I regularly have-that those of us in this wonderful industry are a lucky lot.

Rick Petry is president of agency services for Euro RSCG 4D DRTV, a full-service direct marketing agency based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].


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