Pay what you owe! AIEA tells suppliers to ‘do the decent thing’

“Damaging, insulting and unacceptable.” That’s what the Alliance of Independent Events Agencies (AIEA) has called the behaviour of companies withholding payments to its members.

In an open letter to suppliers on behalf of the AIEA’s 80-strong membership, chair Paula Kelsey calls for businesses to “do the decent thing” and pay what they owe.

The letter reads:

“This is a difficult time for us all. The AIEA is doing its best to support approximately 80 members through times of hardship, and it’s a pretty daunting task. As owner managed small businesses we are feeling the pinch, especially as many of our members are heavily reliant upon commission; you know, the fees that you pay us after we bring you business, the client pays you, and everyone goes away happy. Or at least that’s how it should work.

Paula Kelsey.

Paula Kelsey.

“Here’s the disheartening thing: we’re hearing from more and more members who are being denied commission indefinitely, for events that have already taken place, and for which you’ve been paid. The excuses range from “all staff are furloughed” (although presumably some are still working, to pay the salaries and do the admin), to the contemptuous “the owners will pay when they’re ready” (yes, they did put that in writing), to the downright ludicrous “we’re hanging on to our money for the foreseeable future”. As behaviour in a relationship goes (for that is what we have), it’s damaging, insulting, and unacceptable.

“Let us explain something to you: it’s not YOUR money you’re holding on to, it’s OURS. Furthermore, we’d like you to pay it when it’s due, not when you feel like it, or when times are a little better. If it’s due, pay up.

“Let us explain something else to you: the current status quo is temporary. It will end, and we will all have more business to bring to you. You will be crying out for business, and doubtless you will come to us and ask us to work with you. So, let us ask a simple question: would YOU work with someone who has abused your trust, and been complicit in causing your business to struggle, by holding on to YOUR money? No doubt we’ll find out, and so will you.

“So do the decent thing and pay what you owe. We agents have good memories – it comes with the job and is one of the core reasons that we have clients who trust us to make informed suggestions about the venues and destinations that we propose. That trust is vital to the continued success of the industry and our collective businesses.

“Let’s look upon this as marriage… we’re in it for better or for worse. Show us that you’re as good to work with in the bad times, as well as the good, and we promise you your support and decency will be repaid many times over. Be fair and reasonable, communicate and be transparent – as many already are. The likes of Newbury Racecourse, Intercontinental Park Lane, Hotel du Vin and many others – we salute you. To those of you who have “suspended payments” please think again.

“Let’s make this marriage work, let’s celebrate many milestones and anniversaries in the future – we are all in this together.”

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