3 Ethics Lessons for Meeting Planners From “The Godfather”

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meeting, The Godfather
Surprisingly, The Godfather can be a source of lessons on ethics (photo by Steve Troughton).

An unlikely source of wisdom can be found in “The Godfather,” the classic 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on Mario Puzo‘s best-selling novel about a New York crime family. Here are 3 ethics lessons meeting planners can take away from the film.

lt’s Not Personal, It’s Just Business

Michael Corleone says this classic line to his brother Sonny (for the record, it was: “It’s not personal, Sonny”), but it’s completely the opposite of how meeting planners and their hotel counterparts view their business relationships. In a 2016 survey by Prevue and the Incentive Research Foundation, only 15 percent of planner respondents considered their business relationships as “purely transactional” and 19 percent viewed their partnerships with their CSMs as one of “total commitment and trust.” It’s important for both sides to nurture these connections, because seller’s markets quickly turn into buyer’s markets and each side will remember how the other treated them in uneven times.

Do Whatever is Necessary to Find a Peaceful Solution

Don Vito Corleone said at a gathering of the heads of the five crime families: “A reasonable man will do whatever is necessary to find a peaceful solution.” That translates to meeting planning, where there are constant crises and it’s easy to lose your cool. Channel Marlon Brando if you must and realize that there is always a solution. Don’t offend the individual who put you in the stressful situation or freak out on those who can help you get out of it.

Never Hate Your Enemies—It Affects Your Judgment

This is a quote from Michael from “The Godfather, Part III.” When someone wrongs you, realize that people are sometimes forced to make decisions because of external pressures. For example, your hotel salesperson might be forced to refuse your piece of business because of pressure from his or her revenue manager. Don’t let negative feelings cloud your judgment about that person or how you will face similar situations in the future.


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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.