Alternative Dispute Resolution at trade shows

What are the options for your events?



By Adriana Rabe

SKEMA Business School

Paris, France



Trade shows industry is a growing industry where disagreements between stakeholders can compromise the events. This paper presents the different approaches to a dispute to find the more appropriate method while managing conflict in events organizing. The research on this paper is based on the Multi-Attribute Decision Making (MADM) process, both the non-compensatory model and compensatory model techniques are applied. The different approaches to a dispute will be defined and assessed to understand which one is the more interesting to use. The results of this paper show that prevention is the preferred option. We will have a look at the benefits of using prevention as a dispute resolution method and the possible clauses that can be included in a written contract to prevent conflict from happening.

Keywords: Arbitration, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Conflict, Event Management, Event Organizing, Hospitality Industry, Litigation, Mediation, Trade Shows.



“In mid-October, almost 14,000 persons coming from 100 different countries attended MIPCOM 2018, a trade show that gathers professionals from the TV industry in Cannes, in the well-known region the French Riviera”[1]. Among the attendees, we can find heads of acquisitions, commissioning editors, sales director, and other representatives. During the event, there were more than 2,000 exhibitors and approximately 4,700 companies that came to network, discover brand-new programs and build international partnerships. Since it involves numerous stakeholders, and at the same time divergent and probably conflicting interests among the parties, it is difficult to organize such a big event. Organizing an event of this size requires the promoters to entail numerous service providers that include car drivers, catering staff, goodies producers, hotels personals, registration staff, setting arrangements designers and many more. For Reed MIDEM, the company behind this entertainment content market, we can imagine that it represents thousands of interlocutors and hundreds of contractual agreements to deal with during all the preparation of the yearly project.

When the manager is assigned with a trade show (e.g. MIPCOM 2018), he or she is dealing with a project as defined in Wideman Comparative Glossary: “Any undertaking that has a defined objective, a cost parameter, and a time element for its development. A cluster of activities that are pulled together to deliver something of value to a customer”[2]. The organization of the trade show depends on assets (an asset is “anything owned that has a monetary value”[3]). For the trade show industry, the portfolio of assets are: the project team (human assets), software to plan and schedule, and the clients list (information assets), the venue the company books and the head-quarter of the company (physical assets), a budget allocated to the creation of the event (financial assets) and then the brand image or reputation of the company (intangible assets). According to GAPPS Program Typology[4], there are four types of programs. A program can be defined as a “collection of projects that together achieve a beneficial change for an organization”[5].

For the trade show industry, the program is a multi-project program. Indeed, each event is unique, but the company uses the same resources to achieve each trade show, and thus projects are interdependent. In the trade show industry, the portfolio of projects relates to the fact that the projects are “being undertaking by an organization unit”[6]: the Project/Program/Portfolio Management Offices. Each year, the trade events are organized in the same month. In the process of creating a trade show, we see that a certain number of persons with different roles and responsibilities are gathered, and they assemble resources to work together achieving coordinated activities. The team involved in the completion of the project gathers physical resources such as a venue, tables and chairs for the booths, accreditations and welcome packs (bags). During the preparation of the project, the team needs to consider possible constraints as soon as the project is initiated. Among the constraints, the risk of dispute, for example when you did not receive the bags and the accreditations you ordered, is an aspect analyzed by the project manager. He or she controls the execution and the quality of every deliverable to assess and avoid the happening of such risk.


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Editor’s note: Student papers are authored by graduate or undergraduate students based on coursework at accredited universities or training programs.  This paper was prepared as a deliverable for the course “International Contract Management” facilitated by Dr Paul D. Giammalvo of PT Mitratata Citragraha, Jakarta, Indonesia as an Adjunct Professor under contract to SKEMA Business School for the program Master of Science in Project and Programme Management and Business Development.  http://www.skema.edu/programmes/masters-of-science. For more information on this global program (Lille and Paris in France; Belo Horizonte in Brazil), contact Dr Paul Gardiner, Global Programme Director [email protected].

How to cite this paper: Rabe, A. (2019). Alternative Dispute Resolution at trade shows: What are the options for your events?, PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue I (January).  Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/pmwj78-Jan2019-Rabe-alternative-dispute-resolution-at-trade-shows.pdf


About the Author

Adriana Rabe

Paris, France




Adriana Rabe is a French student enrolled in SKEMA Business School since 2015 (Programme Grande Ecole). In 2018, after one semester in Brazil, she joined the Master of Science Project and Program Management and Business Development in Paris. Adriana has one year of experience in events organizing (mainly in conferences and trade shows). During her gap year, in 2017, she worked at the Forum des Images to plan the Co-Production Forum of Series Maria festival and at TV France International to organize booths for the French delegates. She has gotten the PRINCE2® and AgilePM® Foundation Certificates. She is looking forward to improving her knowledge in events organizing and start another adventure with new project teams.

Adriana lives in Paris, France and can be contacted at [email protected] or https://www.linkedin.com/in/adriana-rabe.


[1] Reed MIDEM. (n.d.). Discover MIP Entertainment Content Markets. Retrieve from http://www.mipcom.com/RM/RM_MIPCOM/marketing/2018/pdf/mip-markets-brochure-2018.pdf?v=636633495992575659

[2] Wideman, M. (n.d.). Wideman Comparative Glossary of Project Management Terms v5.5. © R. Max Wideman, 2000-2017. Retrieved October 31, 2018, from http://www.maxwideman.com/pmglossary/PMG_P12.htm#Project

[3] Wideman, M. (n.d.). Wideman Comparative Glossary of Project Management Terms v5.5. © R. Max Wideman, 2000-2017. Retrieved October 31, 2018, from http://www.maxwideman.com/pmglossary/PMG_A05.htm

[4] Planning Planet. (n.d.). Guild of Project Controls Compendium and Reference. Retrieved October 30, 2018, from http://www.planningplanet.com/guild/gpccar/introduction-to-managing-project-controls

[5] Wideman, M. (n.d.). Wideman Comparative Glossary of Project Management Terms v5.5. © R. Max Wideman, 2000-2017. Retrieved October 31, 2018, from http://www.maxwideman.com/pmglossary/PMG_P10.htm – Program Director

[6] Wideman, M. (n.d.). Wideman Comparative Glossary of Project Management Terms v5.5. © R. Max Wideman, 2000-2017. Retrieved October 31, 2018, from http://www.maxwideman.com/pmglossary/PMG_P04.htm