Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio January
Back to Basics
By Mike Tenholder
TOOLS TO HELP TRACK COSTS
How to choose technology to ease consolidation and leverage
an organization’s meeting spend
Travel and entertainment now comprise a company’s second largest
controllable expense, directly behind payroll and benefits,
according to a recent American Express survey. This helps explain
why companies are becoming committed to using new time- and
money-saving technologies to reduce labor, track spending and
better leverage vendor negotiations.
Organizations often have a number of people planning events
without any knowledge of each other’s activities. Technologies
offered by B-there (www.b-there.com), Event 411 (www.event411.com) and
SeeUThere (www.seeuthere.com) offer the ability to gather the data
produced in several areas, such as registration, supplier databases
and client-relationship management.
NEEDED ON THE MENU
When evaluating technology tools, keep consolidation in mind. The
system must provide the components necessary to develop an
efficient plan, leverage the company’s buying power and improve the
quality and effectiveness of any meeting. This might include the
Meeting-spend monitoring. In addition to having data-mining
functionality to consolidate meeting spend on summary and detail
levels, the program should help a planner secure better supplier
rates. By controlling meeting spend, companies can increase
productivity and save money while providing planners with more
resources and flexibility.
Registration Web sites. Planners should be able to design and
publish a simple-to-use online registration site using the
company’s brand image, including the preservation of established
guidelines such as logo size, font size and color.
Consolidated reporting. Information gathered from attendees
during the registration process should be able to be consolidated
into the reporting component.
Database management. A comprehensive database system should be
put in place to facilitate management from the presentation stage
through billing, enabling the timely collection, tracking and
reporting of all program information.
Some other important elements to consider:
Balance. Does the system meet your
organization’s objectives as is, or would you need to purchase and
integrate other components to achieve your goals?
Basics. Do the features include automated site
selection, expense tracking and coordination of supplier use?
Numbers. Does it offer data-mining
functionality that consolidates spend on summary and detail levels,
with real-time online reporting? These play crucial roles in
maintaining and negotiating vendor contracts.
Follow-up. Is the product backed by adequate
staff for fulfillment, technical support and knowledge of the
industry? Does it provide logistics management, on-site services
for registration and project/meeting management?
Marriage of data. Does the technology capture
and consolidate all meeting spend, as well as provide summary and
detailed information using a variety of filters? Planners should be
able to maintain control of their meetings in a completely
Ease of use. Is the technology simple to use
and designed for optimal productivity with Web access for
secretaries and administrators, as well as meeting planners?
Cost. Does the pricing allow the return on
investment to be calculated easily? Users should be able to
identify various factors for soft savings and productivity gains,
in addition to the hard costs of vendor spending.
Help. Is there adequate and ongoing product
support and training?Mike Tenholder is vice president of
alternative distribution for TQ3 Maritz Travel Solutions in Fenton,
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