Each country has general and specific criteria for ‘official rankings’; these should be used as a basic guideline for that specific country (and reflect state practice to a certain extent), although they can serve as a ranking guide and orientation for industry events, for example.
Not following these criteria can have very serious ramifications for international, social and business ties. Not only can mistakes lead to a certain level of ‘disgruntlement’, but also quite possibly to long-term misunderstandings and even to the end of communications or relationships that may have been built up over a number of years.
However, in all organisational areas where protocol plays a role, there is more to ‘ranking’ than just hierarchies; a large number of further criteria are also significant and should in all cases be considered in the overall approach to an event.
Wherever possible, it is of course always important from a protocol perspective to keep in mind how national, sociological and cultural criteria could play out between the countries represented at an event when considering any kind of ‘ranking’.
This requires a very high degree of tact and empathy. There is one principle of protocol that is always fundamental: the level of personal service offered to each visitor – regardless of their ‘ranking’ (at the event in question) – should make them feel like they are a top-ranked guest.
“Small things make perfection, but perfection is no small thing.”
Sir Frederick Henry Royce (1863–1933) was an English engineer and a pioneer in the automotive industry. Together with Charles Stewart Rolls, he founded Rolls-Royce.
During this kind of event, there is always a number of guests to whom special attention must be paid when it comes to the following:
Please bear in mind that protocol can only provide advice. This is why all ‘ranking’ decisions derived from protocol – whether it concerns forms of address, greetings, seating arrangements, or anything else – must be made with the constant involvement of the host or the customer before the event.
If an event is being held because of a specific person, or if there is a main guest or guest of honour, then in general, this person must be classed as the most important guest. This then applies equally to all aforementioned criteria in the protocol assessment, and can also include an invitation list or list of priorities put forward by the main guest or guest of honour themselves.
For general questions, please visit the Airbus HUB, where you’ll find information on the Event Directive
Avoid consulting non-professionals about ‘rankings’ – it is an absolute ‘minefield’ and simply too complex.