By Ian Neubauer
A war of words has erupted between the organisers of award programs for the Australian event sector following the emergence of a new competitor that is challenging the incumbents’ members-only policy.
The spat has been brewing since June 3, when Meetings & Events Australia (MEA) CEO Linda Gaunt and International Special Events Society (ISES) Australasia affiliate chair Romaine Pereira dispatched a joint communiqué saying they do not support the newcomer – Australian Event Awards (AEA) – as the awards programs run by their associations are representative of all sectors of the industry.
“Awards programs that are run for the industry by industry have established a high standard of submission guidelines and judging process that ensures winners are true industry leaders and professional in their field,” the association heads said.
“These programs are run under ‘not for profit’ initiatives and are highly credible due to the non-bias nature of association management,” they continued, referring the $220 application fee charged for entries for the AEA.
A publicist for the AEA replied in earnest yesterday (Jun 15), saying existing awards programs were not representative of all sectors of the Australian event sector as they are only open to paying members.
“Both awards programs exist only to benefit members [of] MEA and ISES and neither offer very much to tourism, export, community, cultural or sporting events. [But] the AEA is all inclusive, and covers all parts of the industry, great and small,” the publicist told SpiceNews.
“Applications from non accredited or recognised members will not be considered. To gain accreditation you must be a MEA member, you must accumulate points (which you can earn by attending MEA workshops at a cost) and you must pay Accreditation costs of $300 (on top of a membership fee). This is clearly not open or representative of the entire industry.”
While not masking his disappointment over the communiqué, AEA executive producer Jeremy Miller said the individual awards programs served differing needs and there was space for all three to co-exist in the sector.
“It is unfortunate these two associations have chosen to respond to the AEA in this way,” he said. “Of course, we agree that associations can play an important role for their members and we support the notion that association awards programs add value to their members. The AEA is something quite different.
“What we’ve designed is inclusive – an opportunity for everyone from the smallest Australian community event to the largest meeting or sporting event. You can compete in the AEA regardless of your size, location or membership of any association, and we think there’s value in that,” he said.
To read SpiceNews‘ recent story on AEA, click here.
To comment on this story, click here.
*Disclosure: The Intermedia Group, publisher of SpiceNews, is in discussion with the AEA over potential media partnering. The Intermedia Group is also a paying member of MEA and ISES.