Small Meeting, Big Savings: Tackling the Problem of Underleveraged Spend

Mike Tenholder |

Travel manager sitting at a desk with a laptop and notepad managing their travel and meeting spendHow can you manage your company’s travel and meeting costs when you don’t know who’s booking what, where, or when? The problem: Like many organizations, your company holds a lot of small offsite meetings and events. These smaller, more intimate gatherings are great ways to build trust, seal deals, train employees, recruit top talent, get feedback from influencers, and more.

Most of these events don’t go through a centralized meeting department or travel management company. They’re booked by managers, executive assistants … basically, any employees who need to organize a meeting outside the office and book a venue. That means the spend often gets misclassified and spread across profit and loss statements in business units throughout your organization.

No wonder so many companies consider small meeting spend too unwieldy to manage. And so it flies under the radar.

Trouble is, that missing small meetings data leaves you with a big problem of underleveraged spend.

For most organizations, small meetings are the greatest category of unmanaged spend, often comprising 70% – 80% of all meetings (Carlson Wagonlit 2017 Meetings and Events Forecast). However, large organizations rely on aggregated data to maximize their buying power.

The bottom line: Having visibility into small meeting spend can drive millions of dollars of savings for major companies.

Fortunately, a new generation of venue sourcing solutions is helping travel and meeting leaders rethink their small meetings strategy. At last, you have robust tools to track company meeting activity and gain control over this large and elusive category of spend.

Here’s how these solutions can help you leverage spend to get better deals on meetings and events. Examples are from Aventri venue sourcing.

Streamline sourcing and booking

New strategic sourcing solutions capture and aggregate data automatically. They go above and beyond traditional eRFP tools, which focus primarily on the venue search and bidding process. New, next-level solutions automate the entire booking path, capturing the data along the way. They track meeting and event spend end-to-end. Not just sourcing, but also negotiated rates, preferred brand performance, concessions offered, travel policy compliance, stakeholder communications and booking.

As a result, they capture 10x more data. You gain instant visibility into event activity – even small meetings.

Leverage volume

Now, you can centralize the planning process without having to centralize planning teams. Strategic sourcing sourcing provide access to meetings and events data enterprise-wide by brand, user, department, division, region and more. With this clear line of sight, you empower your team to negotiate from a stronger position collectively than on the basis of a single event. For example, you can:

· Check hotel brands in negotiations throughout your company. Are numerous meetings slated with one brand? If so, leverage hotel brands to negotiate better deals based on volume.

· Optimize buying power. Stack meetings with preferred brands and venues you’ve contracted before. Use your sway to ratchet up savings even more, booking multiple meetings at the same hotel.

· See what your savings cost. Check savings-to-spend ratios with preferred brands in a couple clicks. Talk to brands that don’t measure up. Then shift share around to maximize brand leverage.

Capitalize on real-time reporting

Solutions like Aventri venue sourcing present key data points in real time. With instant spend visibility, you improve decision-making. So your team can act quickly on savings opportunities and identify areas of risk.

Use concessions as bargaining chips

In a seller’s market, it can be tough to negotiate rates. Instead, add value to employee travel with concessions like free breakfast, late checkout and free Wi-Fi in guest rooms.

Make is easy

To manage small meeting spend, adoption is key. Intuitive, new solutions offer powerful features travel and meeting professionals appreciate. Yet they require little-to-no training for occasional planners. You can onboard employees in less time than you wait for a pizza delivery.

So how can strategic sourcing help you drive more savings with hotels?

They create a simple booking path. They connect decentralized teams. They track meeting spend automatically. They provide instant access to meeting and event data – even small meetings.

At last, you can power negotiations by leveraging your company’s total spend.

For travel leaders who want to find more savings, strategic sourcing is an easy way to align meetings and events with the goals of your company and play a key role in driving success.

Check out more of our tips to help travel leaders power hotel negotiations and control spend:

Gain Control of Unmanaged Meetings Spend_Aventri ebook

This Post was Written by Mike Tenholder

Mike is a sales leader in the event industry.

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