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BUSINESS CLINIC38 most of us emerging from the recent unpleasantness that was the last recession, the journey is not without its perils. Few of us are clear of it completely and many will experience aftershocks for some time. At the other end, many of our clients during the recession have become used to getting more for less, committing later and negotiating more effective deals. They in turn have been squeezed by their clients and the circle is complete.So what hope is there for aspiring organisers, venues and contractors trying not only to generate more business but to negotiate margins that are meaningful? How do we break the cycle and justify our price when recent memory has witnessed incredible deals and silly margins? While I concede that this is easier to achieve with new business, it is equally important to look after our existing client JUSTIFYING YOUR COSTFSimon Naudi presents several alternative suggestions to convince customers the price you quote is the right onebase and move them gradually to a new position or face the much trodden path of spending the next few years slowly and painfully dragging them reluctantly ever closer to 'rate card'.Assuming creeping death is not your favoured course of action, then there are a few strategies that can be adopted depending upon your situation and history. The options briefl y are to implement an increase and risk losing some clients albeit temporarily; to add value to justify the increases as discussed in last month's column, or to justify your rates. By far the easiest and least risky is the latter.THE PHONE CALLLet's assume that your rate is higher than the competition. You telephone your prospect and pitch only to be met with the refrain 'leave it with me, call me in a week'. Moments later your competitor pitches the same client with a similar proposition, albeit it at a lesser price. Now imagine the prospect cogitating the aforementioned presentations. It is likely that while they will not recall the exact minutiae, they will recall the price differential in the competitor's favour. At the allotted time you call back and are greeted with the archetypal 'How can you justify your price, when I can get the same thing from a competitor for less?' At this point, the client will be expecting you to mention that the two packages are not the same, that yours represents value for money and just about anything else you try. The last thing they would be expecting is some reverse psychology. State that 'in your position I would be tempted to choose their offering'. Point out that 'if' the two packages were the same, (and you're not saying that they are) and the competitor could charge more, why don't they? The client would be moved to agree with your sentiments. Postulate further that there must be a reason (unknown and unspecifi ed) why theirs is so 'cheap'. When the competitor calls back they will be retailed with the client accusation, 'why are you so cheap?' This is an altogether harder allegation to assuage. What do they reply to that? 'Because we are inferior?' Or 'because we are trying to buy your business?' Or is it 'because we are rubbish?' We have carried out exactly such an assignment with one of our clients and secured an uplift in excess of 35 per cent using this strategy. So why not give it a go?- Simon Naudi is MD of the Answers Group.Clients have become used to getting more for less, committing later and negotiating more effective dealsThe fi rst data protection principle requires you to process personal data transparently, fairly and lawfully. In practice, it means you must:. Have legitimate reasons for collecting and using the personal data.. Not use the data in ways that have unjustifi ed adverse effects on the individuals concerned.. Be open and honest about how you intend to use the data, and give individuals appropriate privacy notices when collecting their personal data.. Handle people's personal data only in ways they would reasonably expect.. Make sure you do not do anything unlawful with the data.FIRST PRINCIPLE DATA PROTECTION: AWARENESS IS KEYLater this year, updated data protection laws will incorporate stricter guidelines on the provision of data to subcontractors and other third parties. The Data Protection Act covers everything from security of data in computer systems to the passing of data between suppliers, such as an agency to an exhibition venue. This also includes the simple mistake of leaving data capture lists on exhibition stands.Data is precious, yet how much rigour is the exhibition industry applying to its protection? Recent high-profi le data breaches, such as the Sony gaming network where the personal data of over 100m users was stolen, have highlighted the risk of inadequate data protection. With the penalty for negligence now reaching £500,000 - a sum the Information Commissioner can apply at its discretion for each breach - can anyone afford not to take responsibility?Exhibitors and organisers are naturally on the front line of data capture/management and should therefore look hard to ensure that those they are working alongside are fulfi lling the requirements of the data protection act too. At the very least, organisers and exhibitors should request disclosure of how their business associates have invested in the protection of data (such as systems, policy, processes and training) and how they manage supply chain data provision in light of the updated legislation. This obviously takes time, effort and expense, but not as much as that required to defend yourself against an action by the Information Commissioner's Offi ce.To be compliant with the updated data protection laws, there are several key areas exhibition organisers and exhibitors should focus on when handling personal data including:i) Has it been explained to the individual the purpose for which their personal data is being collected?ii) Has the intended usage of their personal data been adequately explained?iii) Have they been made aware that their information may be passed to third parties? Will their data leave the EU (and therefore fall outside the scope of EU data protection laws)?iv) Do you have consent from the individual to do the things above? Has a record of this been kept, should it need to be evidenced later?- Warren Hillier, on behalf of the Delegate Management Services division of events agency Grass Roots.

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