For most strategic meetings management programs today, the costliest components for sourcing already are addressed via requests for proposal, requests for quotation and requests for information. Up until now, there was rarely an appetite to go deeper into the supply chain to source and manage better outcomes for ground transportation. That seems to be changing as meeting and event planners are looking for additional areas to optimize costs, and ground transportation sourcing makes perfect sense.
Ground transportation today generally is assigned to third-party intermediaries who manage the whole traveler itinerary and billings. Companies that specialize in travel management, destination management and meetings management obviously are in the best position to handle this area for meetings and events. Until recently, however, third parties and everyone else accepted that addressing transportation needs was mostly a manually driven process -- one that had a greater potential for errors due to mistakes in pick-up and drop-off manifests, missed or delayed transfers due to last-minute schedule changes and delays, changes in hotels and/or venues, etc.
Now that the sharing economy has taken root in corporate programs and meetings/events, some significant technology changes have taken place. Today finds traditional ground transportation providers finally developing mobile apps with similarities to the Uber and Lyft booking experience. Case in point: A technology platform called Pow Wow Smart currently is making inroads using its sourcing platform to transform the process from manual to automated, with significant savings and efficiencies driving changes. It has several key capabilities that can manage the following functions:
• Identify data conflicts within manifests in seconds;
• Bulk check thousands of flights in seconds and cross-reference arriving airports;
• Intelligently cross-reference flights, terminals and carriers to determine the best passenger pick-up grouping options and eliminate separate cars for each passenger, which is costly and inefficient;
• Provide visibility and control into this highly overlooked spend category;
• Enable dynamic pricing savings between preferred ground suppliers and exclusive Pow Wow Smart marketplace suppliers, taking you directly to a locally owned and operated fleet that reduces costs by over 30 percent or up to $25 to $75 per attendee; and
• Provide reporting on each meeting that realizes cost savings and cost avoidance.
All of the above reduce pick-up and drop-off redundancies, optimize utilization of contracted sedans, and significantly eliminate human errors and manual checks and balances. The technology integrates with existing corporate and reservation systems, so you also can reduce costs by going directly with the platform or still use a third-party entity (but realize less cost savings).
Time will tell if new ground transportation sourcing technology will become mainstream, but if it is successful, it will draw attention to this “final frontier” in meetings/events spend. Hopefully it will inspire other developers and innovators to modernize, streamline and automate a sector of our industry that has been lagging behind other industry suppliers and the supply chain in terms of technological enhancements.
For more information on Pow Wow Smart, visit their website.
Kevin Iwamoto is senior consultant at GoldSpring Consulting. You can follow him on Twitter@KevinIwamoto. His book, Your Personal Brand: Your Power Tool to Build Career Integrity, is available from Amazon (including a Kindle version), as well as from CreateSpace.