We’ve seen increased demand on travel managers in recent years to gain more visibility into meetings and events. It makes sense; meetings, travel and expense management share many of the same goals. Travel managers have become more accountable for driving cost savings and reducing risk associated with meetings and events within organizations. The most effective way to manage meetings and events spend is to begin at the sourcing process.
Budget Management: Visibility into meeting & events spend is key to controlling costs and ensuring bottom-line savings. It also helps facilitate a strategy that will embed long-term meeting objectives into everyday decisions. Organizations may leave more than a third of their leveraging power on the table by not employing a strategy.
Risk Management: In most organizations, risk comes in many forms; from unmanaged spend to accountability of corporate travelers across the globe, or duty of care. The stakes are high for those with little to no understanding of meeting activity across the organization. Organizations have thrived by managing meetings more strategically and adding controls to monitor compliance and mitigate risk.
Decentralized organizations add an extra level of complexity to tracking and managing meeting spend. In the past, there was a belief that to get centralized data, you had to centralize the sourcing of meetings. With the right technology partner, you can leverage your decentralized users and begin to paint a complete picture of your organization’s meeting activity. Regardless of how the organization is set up, every travel manager should have real time visibility into these four data points:
1. Brand Spend & Savings: The best way to impact your meeting spend is by tracking spend and cost savings by brand. It’s not one or the other, but both. Visibility into your brand spend is your bargaining chip. Create a meetings policy to leverage buying power with these preferred vendors. Then, stack your meetings with preferred hotels to drive further savings. Take it a step further and track brand savings. Know which brand is truly partnering with your organization and earning your business.
2. Booked Room Rate Comparison: Gain more control over budget with insight into guest room rate by hotel rating. Ensure your organization is consistently booking the lower end of the offered rates by hotel rating. If your team maintains a competitive bid environment by submitting bids to at least three hotels prior to selection, you will clearly see where you fall. Tracking room rate can also offer visibility into demand by location and season.
3. Concessions – Negotiated Value: Although tough to get, ensure bidding hotels add values to each requested concession. Concession savings is usually the largest savings area and the one that is least reportable. Hotels do not track concessions offered, so having this data at your fingertips when you talk with your hotel partners will put you in the driver’s seat. Furthermore, create a standard set of hotel concessions and special requests as part of your meetings policy and ensure all planners add them to every RFP.
4. Response Rate by Brand: With the current trends continuing to favor a seller’s market, tracking how many hotels bid on vs turn down your RFP will help you decide which brands to favor. High-response rates mean eager and hungry GSOs and on-property sales people. This data can be particularly important if you have a brand contract and are falling short of your commitments. Receiving the proverbial “A for effort” is key to mitigating the shortfall.
With a little extra work, these KPIs will dramatically improve visibility and impact your organization's spend and savings.
Mike Mason is vice president of sourcing & hospitality solutions at Aventri.