When Global Events Partners held its annual meeting this summer in pre-Katrina New Orleans, GEP Chairman and CEO Chris White made what he thought could be a rather controversial suggestion for the event's agenda.

“Let's talk about price transparency,” he said, referring to the hot button issue that has roiled the meeting and events industry over the past few years. And the initial response from his GEP partners — summarized by White as, “Are your crazy?” — indicated that the GEP head had touched a nerve.

Yet the four-day event confirmed White's belief that greater transparency is the way to go. “We had several different panels, and it was exceptionally well received,” he says. “The clients were taking notes like the information was coming from Moses just down from the mountain. They want to know about DMC pricing, so the result of the experience convinced me that we are on the cutting edge.”

So with the transparency taboo broached, GEP planned the next step: the implementation of organizationwide standards on pricing transparency. The partners, having had the chance in June to talk about the issue, were to meet in late September to strategize action steps.

“It's not really any different from buying any service or product,” White says. “We're not going to discuss profit margins. But we are talking about being very transparent — finding out the needs of our clients, and doing our best for them and their procurement departments.”

A summer tour of his GEP partners told White that they are on board with the plan. When implemented, it will, he says, be fully enforceable, just as any GEP policy.

And if everything went as expected in Chicago, White believes that pricing transparency standards could be fully implemented across the company by mid-October. “It's really not rocket science,” he says.