It's important to remember that putting in place a new supply program is not a one-shot deal. It's an iterative process from
which the team should learn and continue to develop in line with both internal and external market changes. And it's a strategy
best done in phases to adapt to the pace of change sustainable within the organization. On the other hand, there are times
to quicken the pace of change if the need is paramount and evidence suggests that the strategy will be effective. In this
case, a short-term pilot can often resolve potential implementation issues and create the sense of confidence in the strategy
necessary for team buy-in and support.
How can companies best leverage the sizable volume of their meeting business?
It's important to understand the differences between one meeting type and another, but it's equally important to understand
the similarities between meeting components, such as hotels, restaurants, air transportation, event planning, and production.
Companies that have recognized this have benefited through sourcing programs that leverage across all meeting types. [See
For example, companies have recognized that employment of event planners is often more effective when done across the organization.
Preferred supplier programs are a way in which a company can get its arms around spending across many categories and commodity
areas. One benefit is increased productivity as a result of streamlining the engagement process with suppliers through the
use of a master service agreement with call-off rates. Other benefits are cost reduction and enhanced service and quality
through sharing of best practices and enhanced understanding of corporate culture.
In the case of transatlantic teams, it's simply easier to use a single strategy—for planning and reporting—rather than grappling
with multiple approaches.
Companies should also take advantage of the synergies between meetings and transient travel programs. Top areas include air
and ground transportation and hotel spending, as well as process efficiences, such as linking attendee management and e-booking
Consolidation of hotel selection, pricing, and contract negotiation by one team (either in-house or third-party supplier)
is gaining in popularity because it offers standardization of of basic liability and risk clauses while maintaining flexibility
for meeting-by-meeting specifics. A natural outcome of this is data, and with that comes the ability to analyze how and where
the company is spending: Are there sufficient lead times to realize an effective rate? Is there a consistency in destination
selection that suggests a more focused approach to locating metings? Consolidation allows departments to improve processes
and reduce costs. Likewise, benchmarking helps identify potential improvements to specifications on an ongoing basis.
Is a one-stop-shop the best approach?
Historically, many companies have used that approach, particularly for physician meetings, to combine meeting planning
and management with content development. It is considered the most convenient—although not necessarily the most cost-effective—way
to do business. An alternative is to "unbundle" the meeting components to leverage high volume areas, such as hotel space
and air transportation. Whatever might be lost in terms of convenience is gained with the advantages of lower cost and often,