Egencia-NBTA Study Reports Lack of Central Meetings Policy, Planning

I found a couple of really interesting findings from a broad, new study by Egencia and the NBTA Foundation on the importance of travel policy to good business travel management -- and a few of the results touch on groups and meetings, specifically. I thought I'd share because I'm always trying to spread the word about how setting and enforcing strong policies will transform your meetings management program.

The study is called The Corporate Travel Policy: Benchmarking and Insight Study, and it includes responses from 689 organizations (with a range of those spending less than $1 million on travel to those with tabs of $50 million or higher) from the U.S. and Canada.

As I often hear in my conversations with companies, the survey confirms that few today (although I feel that the number is still growing) address meetings in their travel policy. The survey found that 54 percent don't include meetings in policy, while 6 percent said they don't know. Four in 10 define groups and meetings by size or cost, and/or have requirements to register or review such events.

The new NBTA-Egencia study also found that only 22 percent require that groups and meetings be registered centrally. That makes it challenging to negotiate with hotels and other suppliers when you don’t have complete spend information and breakout of the spend -- in terms of transient versus meetings. And if you don't know that a trip is actually for a meeting, how can you collect data and analyze reports about meetings to ensure preferred suppliers are being used or cost-control methods are being enforced? Also, by not registering meetings centrally, you're missing out on the chance to apply workflow rules that promote cost-consciousness, for example, routing meeting requests to approvers (those guardians of policy), as well as attaching a standard pre-approved and vetted contract addendum to safeguard your organization from hotel cancellation and attrition fees. (By the way, the survey found only 28 percent require that meeting and event contracts be vetted through an attorney!  Really? That may be worse odds than gambling!.

There have been other recent studies that have reported some discouraging numbers on the meetings management front. But as I've said before, I am confident that the adoption of best practices by companies is continuing, as the benefits of SMMP receive more attention in the media and the marketplace, the emphasis on SMM education grows (e.g. the creation and advance of the SMMC program) and our struggling economy continues to put pressure on companies to find additional ways of reducing costs while bringing in new revenue.   

Thanks to Egencia and the NBTA Foundation for this valuable new view of the state of North American meetings management!

Want to learn more about the link between strong policy and saving meetings dollars. Check out this replay of a recent StarCite webinar!

Kevin Iwamoto is vice president of enterprise strategy at StarCite. This post is syndicated from his blog, Strategic Meetings Management.