Globally, half of company-held meetings are simple meetings, yet roughly half of survey respondents report their organizations do not use a “managed” meetings channel for simple meetings, according to new research released today by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), in partnership with HRS.
This first-of-its-kind study focuses exclusively on simple meetings management, which are small meetings with basic, replicable requirements. For the first time, both GBTA and Meeting Professionals International (MPI) members were surveyed for the same study to provide perspectives from both travel buyers and meeting planners.
Highlights of the research include:
- 50 percent of corporate meetings globally (49 percent in the U.S., 58 percent in Europe) are simple meetings
- 52 percent of companies book their simple meetings outside of “managed” meetings channels
- 70 percent of respondents don’t follow a required bidding process for shopping/booking simple meetings
- When companies don’t use a simple meetings solution, 77 percent search for hotels or venues exclusively through consumer channels
- When companies have a solution, 72 percent of planners prefer to use it to plan/book simple meetings
- 52 percent of companies don’t have an e-RFP technology for simple meetings, with no plans to acquire one
- Only 4 percent of U.S.-based travel buyers have corporate KPIs attached to the value created by small meetings, while nearly one-third (31 percent) of meeting planners have KPIs
“This research puts numbers to something the industry has long suspected,” said Jessica Collison, GBTA director of research. “Simple meetings account for significant expenditures within companies – yet they are very loosely managed, potentially costing companies when it comes to the bottom line, meetings satisfaction and duty of care compliance.”
Booking Simple Meetings
When booking simple meetings, a majority of U.S.-based respondents (84 percent of travel buyers, 73 percent of meetings planners) report using consumer channels, such as calling a hotel, or visiting a venue’s website and/or a consumer travel website. Many rely exclusively on consumer channels (38 percent of travel buyers and 39 percent of meetings planners). Only 30 percent of respondents say their company has a required bidding process for simple meetings.
When using consumer channels or following informal polices, it can be difficult to use negotiated group rates, make like-for-like comparisons, vet the safety of venues and ensure compliance with internal policies. Consumer channel usage also essentially eliminates the possibility of getting lower rates and/or other amenities that could be gained via leverage of a company’s transient hotel volume.
“Meeting planners anticipate nearly four percent growth in the next year, so the harsh reality this survey reveals underscores the urgency companies should have when it comes to enhancing simple meeting management,” said Abbie Michaelson, vice president of meetings & groups for HRS. “The out-of-process metrics for shopping, booking and venue comparison would set off alarm bells in other areas of corporate procurement. With these findings, those responsible for meetings now have the ammunition to implement measurable changes in this category.”
Processes & Measurement
Only one out of five (22 percent) respondents use an e-RFP platform for simple meetings. These platforms allow companies to solicit and compare bids for their meetings. In the United States, meeting planners (35 percent) are more likely than travel buyers (19 percent) to use an e-RFP tool for simple meetings.
Only one-quarter (28 percent) of respondents have KPIs in place when it comes to measuring simple meetings and the value they create – although that number is much higher for Latin America (38 percent) than North America (20 percent) or Europe (21 percent). In the United States, meeting planners (31 percent) are much more likely than travel buyers (4 percent) to have KPIs in place.
Respondents ranked finding the right room/venue (73 percent), maximizing budget/savings (64 percent) and company policy compliance (40 percent) as the most important factors when booking and managing simple meetings.
“For a category representing millions in corporate spend every year, simple meetings typically escape the level of scrutiny given to other expenditures,” said Bernie Schraer, senior vice president of MPI. “This report, with its depth of metrics and process insight, offers procurement managers, event planners and other influencers a true picture of today’s reality. It also shines a light on priorities planners should consider as they enhance their respective simple meetings programs.”
An online survey was conducted of corporate Travel Managers and Meeting Planners. The survey fielded between April 24 and June 7, 2018. An email invitation was sent to GBTA members and contacts globally, and MPI members in the U.S. Five hundred and sixty-two recipients completed at least one question. Of these, 408 qualified given (1) they are at least somewhat involved “with planning, organizing, or overseeing meetings and events at their company” and (2) they are a travel or meetings professional. Of those who qualified, 260 completed the entire survey, which included: 123 GBTA members, 66 MPI members, 15 members of both organizations and 56 members of neither organization.
Download an infographic here with key highlights from the research. The report, How Do Companies Approach Simple Meetings, is available exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here and non-members may purchase the report through GBTA by emailing Paul Yachnes.
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