Events Travel Asia Group’s founding CEO Max Jantasuwan reflects on the importance of volunteering to push Thailand’s events industry forward.
Throughout my career, I’ve worked with many forward-thinking event professionals who have taught me all the tricks of the event management trade. I didn’t grow up in a privileged environment, so was humbled by the countless opportunities afforded to me over the years.
So, when I started my own events business, Events Travel Asia Group, the first thing I wanted to do was give back to the industry. Whether it’s global or local associations asking for assistance, or the convention bureau seeking support to drive change and promote my beloved country, Thailand, I’m always one of the first to volunteer. I never wait to be “volun-told.”
However, I’ve noticed a widening gap that has caused some of my industry colleagues to be reluctant about volunteering. As a small-business owner, there are times where I forgo business opportunities so that I can make myself available to serve the industry. Unfortunately, not everyone values “volunteered” time and there have been instances where I have experienced ill treatment as a volunteer.
Volunteers must be treated as partners, and with a high degree of respect. After all, we are all serving the “greater good” of our industry.
In recent years, the most important lesson I’ve learnt is to maintain integrity. Before securing a contract, we all get the “partnership and relationship” talk, but once the deposit is received and it comes time to “walk the talk,” too often, we can fall short.
For our industry to thrive, service providers must serve with dignity – however, we are not servants. We choose to serve and deserve respect for our skillset. As an industry, we must be proud of our skills and ensure we live up to client expectations. Complacency is the death of all service providers and if we don’t live up to the event-delivery services that we’ve “sold” or even “volunteered” to clients, then we must be willing to invest further in training and professional development.
Will I continue to volunteer? Most definitely. But my advice is to start qualifying the intention and objectives of those who ask for your volunteerism and your business and ensure that they treat you with respect before giving up your time. A frank, professional, and open discussion on boundaries and limitations is a great place to start a partnership. Our industry can and must do better if we want to compete globally.
Max Jantasuwan is founding CEO of Bangkok-based DMC Events Travel Asia.