Although half of company-held meetings are considered ‘simple meetings’, more than half of organisations do not use a managed channel for such events, according to new research.

A survey by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and hotel solutions provider HRS defined simple meetings as those with basic, replicable requirements. Respondents – who were either GBTA or Meeting Professionals International (MPI) members – provided some interesting perspectives on how their organisations handle small meetings.

An overwhelming 70 per cent said they don’t follow a required bidding process for shopping or booking simple meetings. Where they don’t use a managed solution, 77 per cent search for hotels or venues exclusively through consumer channels such as calling direct or visiting the hotel/venue’s website or a consumer travel site.

However, where organisations have meetings solutions in place, 72 per cent of planners – whether a travel manager or dedicated events manager – prefer to use it to plan and book even simple meetings.

According to the GBTA and HRS, companies are exposing themselves to financial loss and duty of care violations when they depend solely on consumer channels to book simple meetings. Such solutions do not allow businesses to use negotiated rates, make like-for-like comparisons, vet the safety of venues and ensure compliance with internal policies.

Furthermore, companies are failing to invest in technology to make planning easier – 52 per cent don’t have an e-RFP solution in place for simple meetings and don’t plan to acquire one. In the US, meeting planners (35 per cent) are more likely to use an e-RFP tool than travel buyers (19 per cent).

The difference between travel managers and dedicated event professionals was also highlighted by the survey. Only 4 per cent of US-based travel managers have corporate key performance indicators (KPIs) attached to the value created by small meetings, compared to 31 per cent of meeting planners.

Respondents ranked finding the right room or venue (73 per cent), maximising budget and savings (64 per cent) and policy compliance (40 per cent) as the most important factors they consider when booking and managing simple meetings.

Abbie Michaelson, vice president of meetings and groups for HRS, commented: “Meeting planners anticipate nearly four per cent growth in the next year, so the harsh reality this survey reveals underscores the urgency companies should have when it comes to enhancing simple meeting management. The out-of-process metrics for shopping, booking and venue comparison would set off alarm bells in other areas of corporate procurement. With these findings, those responsible for meetings now have the ammunition to implement measurable changes in this category.”

Jessica Collison, director of research for the GBTA, said: “This research puts numbers to something the industry has long suspected. Simple meetings account for significant expenditures within companies – yet they are very loosely managed, potentially costing companies when it comes to the bottom line, meetings satisfaction and duty of care compliance.”

Bernie Schraer, senior vice president of MPI, added: “For a category representing millions in corporate spend every year, simple meetings typically escape the level of scrutiny given to other expenditures. This report, with its depth of metrics and process insight, offers procurement managers, event planners and other influencers a true picture of today’s reality. It also shines a light on priorities planners should consider as they enhance their respective simple meetings programmes.”

Download an infographic of highlights from the survey here.;

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