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When Disruptive Plays Don’t Mean a Better Outcome

by Bill Geist on April 21, 2014

uber surge pricing taxi When Disruptive Plays Dont Mean a Better OutcomeI am pleased to present Bill Geist as a guest blogger here at The Gems.  Bill and I met a few years ago at the first SoMeT conference in Northern Virginia, where I was lucky enough to share a ride with him to the opening reception.  I am grateful that Bill accepted my invitation to do a guest post here. – GR

It’s been fascinating to watch the evolution of disruptive technologies over the past 20 years…all brought on by that damned Internet thing.

Online Travel Agencies destroyed the traditional model of choosing travel experiences by removing the need for human Travel Agents. Amazon destroyed the small town bookstore. Apple destroyed the record business. Netflix destroyed the video rental industry.

Well, maybe not destroyed. But, it sure is different.

Aside from the Travel Agents, bookstores, record labels and video rental shops that adapted to their new world order and survived (and, in some cases thrived), a lot of people lost their jobs, their businesses and their ability to enhance their communities. But, unless it was you or someone you knew, did you care?

Is the travel planning process dramatically worse by using the Internet, review sites and OTAs to do what Travel Agents once did? Is book buying harder online than it was in a store that could only stock a few thousand titles? Do you miss buying an entire album to get one song? And, do you miss trudging out on a sloppy night to find that the movie you wanted to watch was out of stock?

No. You don’t.

But, this next round of disruptions doesn’t bring with it the same promise. Indeed, this round of disruption is designed to allow individuals to make money by providing a service without the investment that others in the space have made and are required by law to make.

Proponents cackle that this is just like when computers made typewriters obsolete. A better product replaces an inferior product.

But, in this case, it is not a better product…it’s simply a different version. And, it’s a version that threatens a version that we need.

The two industries now under attack are hotels and taxis. The former by Airbnb (and others), the latter by Lyft and Uber. These are services provided by regular, entrepreneurial people like you and me. They use their homes and cars to provide a service, facilitated by these websites for a cut of the action.

I’m all for making a little scratch on the side…and it’s not the entrepreneur with whom I have a problem.

My problem is with the web platforms that enable these entrepreneurs to offer their homes and cars to others that believe they don’t have to play by the rules.

Airbnb When Disruptive Plays Dont Mean a Better OutcomeAirbnb (which is in discussions with private equity firms to raise next round funding that would value the company at $10 billion) is slowly beginning to realize its responsibility to the broader eco-system, as they are agreeing on the collection of appropriate taxes in a few cities such as New York, San Francisco and Portland. In time, the sharing economy in the hotel space may come to grips with reality. The taxi concept? Not yet.

As I watch the debate unfold here in Madison, Wisconsin, I’m intrigued as normally intelligent people vociferously defend the rights of others to become amateur cabbies.

nudetaxi When Disruptive Plays Dont Mean a Better Outcome

Except, here’s the thing. Beyond the fact that these citizen cabbies aren’t licensed, creating an uneven playing field, they also are not bound by City regulations that cab companies must service the entire city, not just the downtown, the campus and the airport.

This is a significant distinction…because amateur cabbies can pick off the primo fares without having to venture into the sketchier sections of town. And that jeopardizes the profitability of the four licensed companies. If even one of these companies slips into the red, it negatively impacts the quality of mobility for the entire community.

An online commenter to the recent op-ed piece by the Mayor of Madison’s defense of his opposition to amateur cabs posted that Uber and Lyft wouldn’t have entered the Madison market if the existing cab companies’ business model wasn’t flawed.

Uber When Disruptive Plays Dont Mean a Better OutcomeLyft logo When Disruptive Plays Dont Mean a Better Outcome

That’s pure crap. Uber (now valued at $3.5 billion) and Lyft (which just raised $250 million in venture capital) don’t care about those people who live in underserved neighborhoods who will now have to wait two hours for a cab. They don’t care about the taxi drivers that could lose their jobs.

It’s often fashionable in cities like Madison to view businesses as evil and the sharing economy as a noble response in sticking it to “the man.” Unfortunately, there’s nothing noble about disrupting a traditional business model that has served those without easy access to mobility well.

BiBill Geist When Disruptive Plays Dont Mean a Better Outcomell Geist is the Chief Instigator at Zeitgeist Consulting, a firm specializing in strategic planning, governance, marketing and legislative issues for convention and visitor bureaus, tourism-focused chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and communities. Bill is the author of the acclaimed Destination Leadership for Boards and a contributor to Fundamentals in Destination Marketing.

He has provided consulting services to over 150 Destination Marketing Organizations since 1995 and is a popular speaker on marketing, trends and customer service across North America. He has also served as a guest lecturer on Internet Marketing at the University of Wisconsin’s Small Business Development Center.

Prior to forming Zeitgeist Consulting, Bill served as the President/CEO of the Greater Madison (WI) Convention & Visitors Bureau from 1990-1995. During his tenure, he was the lead spokesperson and co-strategist for the successful public referendum fight to build the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Monona Terrace Convention Center. He also succeeded in doubling the Bureau’s sales and marketing budget and oversaw the launch of one of the Top 25 Marathons in the nation.

Be sure to subscribe to his daily blog!


Password Security for #EventProfs

by Greg Ruby on April 18, 2014

bigstock D Key 4554386 300x300 Password Security for #EventProfs

By now, you have probably heard about the risks that the Heartbleed SSL bug poses to your online passwords.  Over the years, I have received many hints and suggestions on how to have the “perfect” password.  This infographic produced by WhoIsHostingThis is one of the best I have seen and thought it was worth sharing.
1397770256 how create super stong password Password Security for #EventProfs

For more information on this topic, check out the post by WhoIsHostingThis, where this infographic was first shared.

3D Human Image from Bigstockphoto.com by Koun


Brooks Robinson, Risk Management & Stage Safety Rails Revisited

April 16, 2014

Back in 2012, I posted about one of my childhood heroes, legendary Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson, being injured by falling off a stage at an event in Florida. The Miami Herald is now reporting that Robinson is suing the owners of the hotel for nearly $10 million for permanent injuries and lost income. Robinson was […]

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Help AVforPlanners.com beta test their RFP Builder

April 14, 2014

My friends at AVforPlanners.com are looking for a few good meeting planners! In particular, they want meeting and event planners to help beta-test their RFP Builder on their website. Kick the tires, put it through the wringer.  They have tested their RFP Builder many times, but now would like to have another set of eyes take […]

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MPI gets it right with the revised CMM program revision…. Almost….

April 7, 2014

The folks over at the headquarters of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) are probably breathing a little easier now after Friday’s announcement of revisions to the revised CMM educational program that were released in December.  MPI leadership deserves credit for listening to the CMM community and responding to their concerns.  The leadership of many other organizations […]

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World Water Day 2014 & the Meeting Professional

March 20, 2014

This Saturday, March 22 is World Water Day, promoted by UN Water, and offers a chance to reflect on how we, as meeting and event professionals, can reduce our use of water. Think about the conferences and events that you attend.  Earlier this month, I attended a trade show in Atlanta where members of the association […]

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A Tale of Two Trade Shows

February 19, 2013

  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, […]

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Things I Think I Know – Valentine’s Day Edition

February 14, 2013

Here’s wishing everyone a very happy Valentine’s Day!  Today, I have a few random Things I Think I Know…. Thanks to those of you who have sent me notes of encouragement and congratulations on my being named as the new Community Manager for the #Eventprofs community on Twitter.  I, along with new Community Advocate Carolyn Ray, […]

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Pay It Forward: $13 a month in 2013

February 8, 2013

  I, like many of you, have some favorite charities that you donate your time or contribute to monetarily during the year.  I have made a pledge to donate $13 a month to different charities and causes in 2013 and hope you will consider doing the same! Since this blog is focused on the meetings […]

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Mr. Speaker – Lessons for #Eventprofs from Political Conventions

September 6, 2012

“Mr. Speaker, the great state of Maryland, known as America in miniature, from the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean, through the great bounty of the Chesapeake Bay to the rolling mountains of the Appalachians, cast all of its delegates for the next President of the United States…..” Sometime during the summer of 1976, I […]

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