The meetings and events industry is a minefield of challenges, business models and technical systems, with agents, suppliers, TMCs and corporate clients alike trying to find the most efficient mix. For its latest challenge, GDPR, click here the page dedicated to it.
For Corporate Events Teams
Meeting planners / bookers have to find the most appropriate venue for a forthcoming event… then plan for the event, including managing 3rd party suppliers… then manage delegates attending the event… then manage the event itself… before conducting post event feedback to calculate the ROI of the event. It’s a challenge to do this for one event, but planners often work on multiple events concurrently… and need to produce reports across multiple events.
With all event suppliers presenting reports in a different way, it is a real challenge to work out the total cost for one event, let alone multiple events.
For Meetings and Events Agencies
All the above challenges are compounded by the fact that agencies have to manage multiple corporate clients, each of which may have a different commercial model, a different preferred supplier list and different event types. Plus there are the challenges of managing commercials with both suppliers and clients, including bill back, commission, management fees, rebates, over-rides, deposits, payment terms, etc. But the biggest challenge is to work out how profitable an event has been, when factoring in staff costs.
Invariably, there will be a legacy back office system in place which will have an impact on what they can do in the ‘front office’ and how they can do it.
Then there is an inherent conflict of interest when an agency manages the events of a corporate clients as a ‘free’ service by claiming commission from suppliers – the agency wants to maximise its income, while the corporate wants to minimise the cost of the venue!
For Travel Management Companies (TMCs)
TMCs’ core competency is in business travel, but the lure of new business streams from existing clients has seen them enter the meetings and events arena. In many case the meetings and events division / branch of a TMC is treated poorly compared to business travel, but this is changing due to the profitability of meetings and events.
The challenge faced by TMCs is to automate and streamline their meetings and events business in line with business travel – however, this is not as easy as it seems, due to the inherently ‘high touch’ nature of meetings and events.
The Solution – Technology as an Enabler
The solution for Corporate Events Teams, Meetings and Events Agencies and Travel Management Companies is technology. However, the challenge is to work out which technology platform to use, and an appropriate adoption strategy. For example, does the corporate or agency opt to migrate to a single technology platform which supports integrated event management, venue sourcing and delegate registration, or use multiple systems. Data migration and the sheer nature of the industry (i.e., confirmed events may be years in the future) may make it inviable to move from an existing system to a new system.
There is no simple answer to how best to use technology for any organisation, as it often depends on the their ‘starting point’. Smartec Business Solutions works with organisations to find the optimal way of working, using technology as an enabler. The focus is always on the BUSINESS, with technology used as TOOL to maximise EFFICIENCY and PRODUCTIVITY, with the ultimate aim of BUSINESS GROWTH.
Nuances of the meetings and events industry
Any events professional will recognise the following challenges they experience on a daily basis:
- Agencies often have a 4 hour response time to their contracted clients, which means venue sourcing responses have to be received within 3 hours of sending.
- How can agencies best handle commission and markup?
- In EMEA and Asia Pacific, client-facing proposals for each venue proposed need to be detailed and presented with a final cost for the event. In North America, a comparison spreadsheet of venue proposals is sufficient, without the need for a detailed total cost.
- Where can you record FAM trips and Site Visit notes? Usually in a spreadsheets on a shared drive, but the challenge is to have processes in place to ensure the data is kept up to date. Staff changes and working under pressure make this difficult to maintain.
- How much time and effort do you expend on pitch business, when contracted clients provide regular income?
- Does CRM mean contact with prospects to win new business, or does it mean contact with event planners, so you can track all event-related communications for handover or query purposes?
- Managing all the suppliers for a single event is a challenge, but doing this for multiple concurrent events is very difficult. Is an efficient document and communications management system in place?
- How do you collate post event supplier spend data when all suppliers provide data in different formats and at different times?
- It’s August… so it must be Tender Writing season! Why do clients always give you 2 weeks in August to respond to a 3 year contract tender when they know half your office is on leave?
Moving from an existing system, no matter how basic, to an automated system is a large undertaking, and should not be taken lightly. It entails a full review and update of all current systems and processes, before implementing a change management program.