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Exploring – the benefits of combining meetings & travel spend

Research shows that business travel managers are increasingly expected to take responsibility for meetings management – and many are unsure what to do. Kari Wendel, senior director – global SMM strategy & solutions, CWT Meetings & Events, invited attendees to join the discussion and share their experience. The aim was to find out how bringing the categories together could benefit organisations.
 

Delegates agreed there were often vast differences in the way companies treated travel and meetings, with travel managed in accordance to policies while there is usually no policy at all in relation to meetings. They were asked to consider drivers for a consolidated programme.
 

Live polling through the CWT Exchange app revealed that most delegates thought savings was the most compelling argument for a consolidated travel and meetings programme (72 per cent in breakout one and 80 per cent in breakout two).
 

Kari pointed out that companies that have consolidated with a centralised meetings strategy, not even necessarily consolidating with business travel, saved 19.3 per cent on average. Improving visibility and transparency of meetings, events and travel spend can be a powerful tool to negotiate a better deal with suppliers.
 

She said: ’60 per cent of travel spend is on meetings – if you can’t see that how can you leverage it? You need to have control over your spending.’
 

Further discussion revealed that some travel managers had struggled to gain stakeholder buy-in for a consolidated approach – particularly when PAs enjoy arranging meetings themselves. Many delegates agreed that savings might be a less compelling driver than safety and security, which was high in everyone’s minds so soon after the Paris terror attacks.
 

They pointed to benefits of consolidation, including:

  • Traveller tracking – knowing where your employees are in a crisis was important for the individual, the business and an organisation’s reputation
  • Compliance – a centralised policy gives the meeting arranger information about approved venues and negotiated deals, streamlining the booking process
  • Consistency – each employee has the same experience whether they are a ‘traveller’ or an ‘attendee’, reducing stress
  • A one-stop shop approach improves the user experience, with a registration site allowing some choice within set perimeters and also capturing data

 

At the end of the session, the value of a combined meetings and travel programme was clearly understood. The challenge lies around stakeholder engagement and Kari agreed it could seem ‘overwhelming’.
 

For more tips on consolidating travel and meeting spend, download this handy tips document.
 

If you’d like to hear more about consolidating meetings and travel, contact UK SMM expert, Chris Goundrill today.