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Mailbag: A detailed report should follow Las Vegas trip

May 09, 2012

The Costa Mesa City Council talks about transparency and running the city like a business, yet it appears to lack even the most basic business practices. Two members asked to have a subsidy to attend the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) convention in Las Vegas. Attending a developer conference to promote our city makes sense.

Let's put aside that this convention provides business opportunities for developers and these two councilmen (also in real estate) would probably be attending whether or not the city subsidized them. Let's put aside that this convention is a historically proven opportunity to accrue political donations if someone is running for office. And, let's put aside that as successful business people, I would think that they could both afford the $750 each they have requested from the city.

They said they are going to conduct city business, and I take them at their word. These are not the issues here.

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The questions here are simple: What will you accomplish, and what did you accomplish, on your trip to Las Vegas?

Surprisingly, there was a sarcastic, negative reaction from two of the other council members when a request was made to provide a detailed report on the conventioneers' meetings.

As a business person for the last 30-plus years, I have attended hundreds of conventions. As an executive, as a consultant, as an exhibitor and as an attendee. I have shared costs with multiple clients. In each and every case there was a simple requirement for myself and my executives: Provide a comprehensive, detailed report on who you met, what you discussed, what you learned walking the show, what are the next steps, what is the opportunity.

The form of this report varied, but at a minimum it consisted of stapling business cards to a contact sheet and writing up a meeting re-cap so we could convert a meeting into an opportunity. We summarize all of this information in a report to my client, my company and myself. We would then be able to follow up on all of the meetings to convert them to business. Everyone would have all of the information they needed for a cogent, comprehensive series of next steps. In many cases, reimbursement for expenses was contingent upon receiving a report of business conducted. It is not just an oral debriefing.

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