I hear a lot about how difficult it is to drive savings on meetings when planners work in silos. It’s tough for the team to keep up with all that’s happening, with everyone only focused on his or her own meetings logistics. This is especially true in large and medium-size organizations. Meetings leaders and planners tell me the following:
- “Our meetings are planned by the events team as well as managers, administrative assistants and just about anyone else in the company who feels the need to call a meeting.”
- “There’s no way to manage the spend when I don’t even know who’s booking the meetings.”
- “I had no idea a coworker was sourcing a meeting in the same city as me. We could have joined forces to drive a better deal with two meetings at the same venue instead of just one.”
- “I need a quick way to let my team know about hotels where we’ve cancelled meetings, so they can rebook those venues and recover cancellation deposits.”
- “My team has more than 50 years of combined experience. I wish I had an easy way to share their collective knowledge about venues.”
With meetings details changing rapidly, at the click of a mouse, it’s a real challenge to stay ahead of the process. So how can you manage the madness to better control and leverage spend?
That’s where a new generation of collaborative venue sourcing tools comes in. Savvy meeting leaders are using them to connect decentralized teams. They find better collaboration drives more savings and keeps meetings programs on track.
How is this technology different than other RFP tools?
The latest venue sourcing solutions are not only more collaborative, but also more robust.
You see, traditional RFP tools only assist with the venue search and bidding process. But that’s only 10% of the work that goes into booking meetings and events.
Next-level sourcing solutions do the heavy lifting to help you manage the entire process – venue sourcing as well as stakeholder communications, negotiation and contracting.
Best of all, this technology automatically captures 10x more data. You gain valuable insights into how every bid is evolving in real time.
These platforms give team collaboration a boost by connecting planners throughout your organization worldwide. Information is instantly available in one place to everyone in your organization with meeting arranger responsibilities. So planning teams work collectively to better leverage volume and advance your company’s business goals.
How can collaboration tools help you?
Here are 9 ways to use collaboration tools and elevate your team’s role as strategic advisors … drawing upon examples from Aventri’s Venue Sourcing.
1. Gain a comprehensive picture of meeting activity – Now, you can centralize the data without centralizing planning teams. A comprehensive RFP dashboard provides a bird’s-eye view of all meetings sourced at every stage of the process. You gain instant visibility into spend and savings companywide – by brand, user, department, division, and region.
2. Leverage volume – Full visibility is your bargaining chip. You can filter by preferred hotels or by hotels your team shortlisted or booked during the last 12 months. Planners maximize buying power by stacking meetings with preferred venues and leveraging multiple meetings at the same property.
3. Optimize brand spend – These powerful solutions automatically calculate venue save/spend ratios to drive more value. Follow active negotiations to see if your company has multiple meetings in the works with the same brand. Armed with this insight, planners can leverage total brand spend and negotiate from a stronger position collectively than on an event-by-event basis. Also view the performance of preferred brands to determine which ones are working hardest to earn your business.
4. Access team knowledge – A centralized platform enables your team to share its collective knowledge across the organization. Planners can quickly view their favorite venues and those of their colleagues from the search screen. Plus, they can see coworkers’ notes about venues and flag properties that have overcharged or provided poor service. Team collaboration is a powerful way to reduce your company’s exposure to financial and contractual risk.
5. Recoup cancellation deposits – Share other intelligence, like upcoming renovations and cancellation credits. Companies lose hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from meeting cancellations alone. Collaboration tools set your team up nicely to rebook those venues and recover deposits.
6. Get a handle on big data – Concerned your team will be overwhelmed in an ocean of data? Don’t be. Using solutions like Aventri’s Venue Sourcing, you can key in on the data points that best align with corporate objectives. These solutions curate the data and present relevant information at the time it’s most relevant – when planners are researching venues to add to their RFPs.
7. Avoid scheduling conflicts – View all company meetings and happenings in one place on the enterprise calendar. Drill down to the details, including meeting owner, venue, location, dates, attendees and more. Your team can easily avoid scheduling conflicts, viewing all meeting activity companywide in one convenient place.
8. Enhance team management – With full visibility, you manage planning teams more effectively. For example, you can know in an instant who’s busy and who’s not to better manage workload. Planners, in turn, can see the progress of bids in real time and quickly pick in where a colleague has left off to keep the process moving forward.
9. Onboard in minutes – With minimal-to-no-training required, you can onboard your team in a matter of minutes. Advanced sourcing solutions are easy for everyone – occasional planners, sales managers, administrative assistants, and anyone else in your organization who plans meetings. Yet they have powerful features to fit the needs of event professionals. These include: preferred venue visibility, aggregated bid summaries with side-by-side comparisons, and a negotiation tracking tool that make all bid details readily available in one place.
With meetings data at their fingertips, your team will advance beyond logistics to the role of strategic advisors. And you’ll further establish meetings and events as powerful growth enablers for your company.
Check out these additional tips for meeting leaders: