The post Covid19 business environment is likely to be extremely challenging. It’s important that every aspect, including Business Travel MICE, are reviewed and optimized.
As a business travel consultant, these are some learnings that ProKonsul has executed for its clients, which can deliver immediate financial savings & a more structured approach to managing Business Travel MICE.
1.Calendarize all planned meetings annually
It’s been seen across a variety of enterprise that business travel MICE (BT MICE) are generally based on Adhoc emergent needs. It is common to find business unit heads decide reactively to scheduling meetings & events - whether internal or with clients/vendors.
This ad-hoc approach poses an extraordinary amount of pressure on the internal travel & meetings team to source inventory, negotiate with respective suppliers & organise requirements. Further, there is very limited opportunity for strategic sourcing, technology planning and optimization as each event is planned independently.
A far superior approach is to have all enterprise SBU & business heads calendarize events planned annually. Sales kickoff‘s, customer events, vendor meets & internal staff meets should be scheduled as part of the annual planning exercise.
A contingency for unscheduled meetings can then be plugged into this annual calendar to create an overall roadmap for the year. Data from the preceding year could be used to provide guidance.
Once a broad calendar of events is available to the BT MICE team, the second step would be to plan prospective locations at venues. These would depend on budgets, facilities required, user preferences & prior events. There would also be a need to consider metro city location / historical & beach resorts or simply extremely budget locations, based on event objectives.
The type of venue, and the related facilities and budgets, for each type of event in the calendar is an important step in operationalizing the plan.
This will require a degree of thinking to create a matrix of venue types/facilities and locations, that meet user needs.
At this stage, we recommend its customers to engage their strategic sourcing team. An alternate is to outsource this activity to a business travel consultant, who can independently source.
This phase would start with identifying hotel chains that may offer a large variety of accommodation options across different class categories, venue types, budgets & locations.
An example could be Marriot / Hilton or other domestic chains of hotels that offer a variety of venues, locations, inventory, and conferencing facilities. The objective, as a business travel consultant, is to recommend consolidation of all annual meeting spend across a couple of hotel chains rather than fragmenting it across a multitude of hotels individually.
This approach generally will lend itself to financial benefits & value addition from the identified vendors who are able to now provide tangible value based on a committed volume of events.
The next steps involve identifying potential event planners/managers who can provide the infrastructure required at the respective venues to operationalize the event. Creating a master list of required utilities, technology, and infrastructure that needs to be installed at the venue, can form the basis for building an RFP to identify a set of event managers to support the entire spectrum of events planned.
The importance of technology in a post Covid19, to minimize waste and inefficiency, cannot be overstressed. Event management technology can optimise logistics, reservations, travel & sourcing.
Agreed pricing terms including itemized costings into the enterprise ERP so that all SBU leads & BT MICE staff have direct instant access to negotiated terms. This creates a single virtual repository that can be centrally updated or modified rather than have a decentralized fragmented archive, which is the norm today.
Equally important is the ease and efficiency with which individual delegate travel & accommodation needs are consolidated on an event management platform to reduce administration effort.
Given the scale of the BT MICE program, it is important to also plan the mechanism by which vendors are paid.. Efficient and quick processing of invoices, validation versus agreed terms and faster settlement can also drive improved pricing from vendors.
As a business travel consultant, ProKonsul actively recommends a meeting’s purchase card or a virtual card. This will facilitate quick reconciliation versus approved terms, validate additional ad hoc purchases and settle claims in a speedy efficient manner.
Deployment of a card based payment system will additionally deliver financial cashback, which is of incremental financial value to the enterprise.
5.Appointing a strategic meetings management partner (SMMP)
Using a strategic meetings management partner (SMMP) is a well understood business practice in more advanced markets. However, in emerging markets like India, this is not a common business practice.
This approach would require appointing one single vendor who would manage all events on a turnkey basis, negotiate with hotel suppliers & operate on the management fee model. This model may be more efficient for those organisations who have limited procurement and administration resources to manage a wide variety of events.
This engagement will require a very strong contractual framework, to ensure that that the identified SMMP partner does not abuse the business model. In a post Covid19 world, where procurement and administration will be under extreme cost constraints, this approach of outsourcing to a specialist, is definitely worth considering.
As a business travel consultant, ProKonsul perceives tremendous pressure on every aspect of enterprise cost while facilitating business essential meetings and events. This is a fact that cannot be wished away.
Further, ProKonsul believes that cost centers like travel administration, logistics and coordination will have to reduce resources and cut costs. The recommendations listed above can ensure that enterprise achieves its business objectives in a smart and efficient manner while eliminating inefficiencies resultant on perpetuation of legacy operational processes.
It will be in the interest of travel administrators and managers to use the time off currently due to COVID-19, to rethink their work approaches.
Question every aspect of your operations & build a business case for operational efficiency. This is the only way your CXO leadership will perceive you as a valuable business partner to the enterprise rather than a legacy cost center. New ideas, innovation, and tangible cost savings are the keys.
ProKonsul believes that that the time for inertia and keeping the status quo is over ! Unless travel managers/administrators can deliver on these aspects, their shelf life in the enterprise, is limited.
Given the financial pressures, enterprise CXO’s should also actively consider domain experts & consultants who understand the complexities and opportunities inherent in BT MICE. This can deliver quick, smart & efficient delivery of business objectives within restricted budgets.
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ProKonsul ® optimizes the business travel lifecycle of its clients. It delivers domain expertise in enterprise business travel. Established in 2014, it is the pre-eminent business travel consultant firm in India, Asia & emerging markets. We are located in Gurgaon, India. ProKonsul ® advisory services are supplier agnostic & governed by a robust integrity policy.
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