At many companies, different departments oversee the planning of small offsite meetings and the procurement and booking processes for corporate business travel. In addition, small events are often charged on corporate credit cards, and the expensing is categorized under general travel and entertainment, rather than business development. That discrepancy causes inefficiencies, including a lack of transparency around the true return of corporate meetings.
Today, however, the most comprehensive cloud-based event management platforms are developing dedicated options for planning small meetings that require travel. This allows corporate travel managers to easily consolidate meetings and business travel, so they can integrate their booking processes. They can also track the multitude of expenses in one place to better ensure policy compliance, competitive spending, and maximum transparency overall.
Travel and Events Are Coming Together Faster Than Ever
According to a 2017 survey published by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and Cvent, the consolidation of travel, meetings, and event programs grew 62% since 2015. If those trends continue, two-thirds of programs will be fully consolidated this year.
“Patience is key when it comes to consolidation," Kate Vasiloff, GBTA research director, says in a separate report by Skift and Cvent. “Consolidated programs have enjoyed incredible successes, but the benefits may not come immediately. Travel managers and event planners with consolidated programs report greater success now than they did two years ago, making the value of consolidation well worth the time and investment it takes to implement, troubleshoot, and streamline a unified program."
However, organizational issues remain an impediment. It can be challenging for related groups to get on the same page if they're siloed from each other or report to different leaders. According to the GBTA research, when it comes to reasons that companies don't consolidate meetings and business travel, 76% of travel managers and group planners say that meetings, events, and travel teams simply don't report to the same department. An additional 66% cite problems with aggregating data across different groups, while 47% say stakeholders aren't aligned on business and technology goals.
Integrated Platforms Reduce Redundancies and Increase Transparency
Cloud-based event and travel technology platforms, which offer shared access among an organization's divisions, can help ease some of these difficulties.
“If full consolidation is not an option at this time, investigating and implementing use of management technologies may bring travel managers and event planners some of the valuable benefits of consolidation," the GBTA report states. “Overall, there has been a tremendous increase over the past two years in travel managers and event planners with non-consolidated programs finding meeting management technology attractive, possibly in part due to two prominent industry trends: data capture and attendee experience."
Concur Travel is one of the companies supplying those technologies. The corporate travel booking and expense management platform can be easily integrated with various cloud-based event management solutions. That means group planners and corporate travel managers can see a more complete view of travel expenses related to meetings, and event attendees can book meetings-related travel that complies with company policies more seamlessly than before.
Hotels can expect to reap the benefits of this ongoing evolution. As more companies consolidate meetings and business travel bookings, hoteliers will see a rise in meeting RFPs from those companies.