Why air cargo awards are worthless

Why air cargo awards are worthless

Why air cargo awards are worthless

AND the winner of the most farcical air cargo awards ceremony is: [fill in the blank].

The prize for the most ludicrous air cargo presentation goes to …

Due diligence would show that most air cargo industry awards schemes are decided by people who never know enough about the subject to make fair, informed decisions, writes Nigel Tomkins.

They make no mention of any transparency about the criteria, the selection process, or the make up of the committee involved in choosing the winners.

Aircargoeye.com proffers two as yet unanswered questions:

How many cargo airlines of the year can there be? How strong is the link to sponsorship (advertising)?

In the world of commerce, most corporate awards contests could be described as scams – in which accolades are essentially purchased by ‘winners’.

It might work like this: To generate income, event organisers run annual contests with, say 100 categories, and solicit an unlimited number of entries. In some instances, applicants may even pay an entrance fee per application. The more entries, the greater the chance of winning an award, so applicant companies may pay for a number of entries. With so many categories – and gold, silver and bronze levels in each – literally hundreds of awards categories can be created.

How to win at least one award

The majority of entrants can therefore ‘win’ at least one award, especially in an obscure category having only few direct competitors or none at all.

They then use these trophies to impress and solicit clients. They add winners’ garlands to their marketing and branding. They re-paint their vans and office frontages.

In air cargo, the ‘winners’ are mostly picked subjectively, often by accountants, event organisers, publishers, advertisement managers and other people, who have no idea whether a given entry satisfies any other criteria. Air cargo customers may be nowhere in sight.

Winners and non-winners are then invited to attend lavish awards dinners, with medalists often including their own clients and staff for an evening of self-congratulatory celebration. This jamboree generates even more income for the organiser, and attracts prospective new potential ‘winners’ who (you guessed it) could win something next year.

Everybody appears to win at this game. It is indeed a game, but not one of chance.

Over the years, there have been dozens of unsolicited, blue riband awards handed out to airlines, forwarders, associations and individuals by trade magazine publishers around the world. Currently available are awards schemes in Asia, Europe, Latin America, Africa, North America, Australia, the Middle East and India.

Sadly, the concept has now become so shamefully widespread and corrupted that it is manifestly devaluing the integrity of the business.

Best cargo airline is a designation that should mean something, a revelatory new business approach perhaps – something that challenges the status quo and reflects and salutes an important development. Best cargo handler should be just that: fast, efficient, reliable and innovative.

And yet sadly, time and time again, air cargo awards go to the most predictable organisations (you know who they are) – those with sizeable advertising budgets – and the ‘winning’ companies never seem to question or challenge the selection processes. Their wins say everything about why the awards mean nothing. In many cases, the winner has done nothing exceptional.

Due diligence doesn’t seem to exist. Someone should take a look at the background of the awarding organisations and forensically question how their winners have been selected – and how much they have received for the privilege.

How many of those hundreds and thousands of ‘un-awarded’ air cargo companies distributed around the world have ever asked questions about these awards or challenged the flawed processes?

There are of course many legitimate business awards and these are usually easy to spot, especially if the selection criteria is made public and there is a genuine, auditable customer voting process, such as in the film, arts, sporting, drama and literature industries.

But it seems there are no shortage of companies happy to fork out US$10,000 or $20,000 or $100,000 for their own special certificate of air cargo excellence, a silver-service dinner and a photo of the ‘VIP’ reception on its webpage.

Should there be an award for the air cargo industry’s most blatantly commercial awards ceremony? If so, it could be called the Greased Palme d’Or.