Written by Kristen Koenig, Director of Sales, Global Meetings & Events

The time to start paying attention to Strategic Meetings Management is now.

A lot has changed in the Meetings industry over the last 10 years. The evolution, particularly when considering technology integration, has been rapid, and we’re really beginning to reap the benefits of a decade of advancement. Personally, I am someone who thrives on innovation – if there is anything new or exciting that allows my customers or me to become more efficient, I want to know about it!

While observing countless conferences, overseeing some of the world’s largest meeting programs, and connecting with industry leaders, I found myself thinking: there have to be current processes that resemble those required for Strategic Meetings Management programs. There has to be a simple way to begin addressing SMM as a category of importance. So where are the innovations, the technology integrations, and the financial efficiencies already taking place?

"The knowledge and application of corporate travel programs is where the meetings industry is about to take off..."

When I joined World Travel, Inc. just a few months ago, I began to work as a counterpart to our corporate transient team. I got a crash-course in transient travel trends, and that is when it clicked. While this may sound simple to those who have already realized the correlation, many have not: The knowledge and application of corporate travel programs is where the meetings industry is about to take off, even more so than it has thus far! And it makes sense. The merge started a long time ago in the Pharmaceutical vertical, but for most corporations around the globe, we have seen just the tip of the iceberg.

Did you know that 1-3% of a company’s total revenue is spent on Meetings & Events?

Let’s take a deeper look. Imagine you are a $500M company with an estimated 1% spent on meetings in your organization. That equates to $10M spent on M&E. If you manage that program effectively and optimize best-in-class technologies and services, you could be saving upwards of $1M or more. Think about the possibilities!

As I speak with more and more corporations, especially in the mid-market, I find many do not know what meetings are going on in their organization, or what the spend is, or even where to start when it comes to organizing and consolidating group travel and Meetings & Events. However, they have a strong corporate travel program which dips into the group travel quota.

A-ha! That’s where we can begin.

"Corporate travel programs have a lot going for them."

Savings is typically a top-4 goal for corporations, especially in the category of indirect procurement handling travel, but meetings usually get left to the side if the program is decentralized. Corporate travel programs have a lot going for them: strong preferred negotiations with hotels and airlines, preferred corporate cards, integration between travel tools and expense systems that provides seamless user experience…the list goes on. And all these features save the company money. Even though the industry has been talking about SMM for quite some time, the meetings category of indirect spend is beginning to understand the benefits of replicating what has been established in transient travel programs over to meetings. Use some copycat tactics to create a true end-to-end process for all meeting components through group sourcing negotiations, integration of registration tools & online booking tools, virtual cards, and negotiated onsite details that secure savings on A/V, onsite check-in, F&B, room amenities and more.

While there are companies that have taken note of corporate travel program strategies in the Meetings & Events world, most have not. That leaves our growing meetings industry with a huge opportunity.

So What’s Next?

Once you realize how corporate travel programs have paved the way for substantial meetings programs improvement, the checklist begins! Taking these steps is sure to be a huge benefit for any company – from savings to efficiency to automation and collaboration for all employees/planners. Have you seen this crossover in action? Have you begun to intertwine Transient Travel and Meetings & Events to work in harmony?


The Indisputable Benefit of Meeting Face to Face: World Travel, Inc. Celebrates Global Meetings Industry Day 2016!

In the travel industry, or as travel overseers, we know the benefit of face-to-face meetings. We book travel every day to make sure we can shake hands, sit at the same table, and speak directly to one another. I’m a part of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition, which is celebrating Global Meetings Industry Day on April 14. There are some great events to take advantage of all over the world. Click here to see some of them (make sure to scroll down a bit to find North America events!)



Chesley Turner

Written by Chesley Turner