BTN's Strategic Meetings Summit Tackles T&E Spending

Can you capture the T&E spend attached to a meeting? That's just one challenge being discussed today at the third annual Strategic Meetings Summit, sponsored by M&C's sister publication, Business Travel News. The event drew about 125 meetings industry professionals to the Convene Conference Center in New York's Times Square for a day of educational sessions and networking.

At a session on "Leveraging Transient Travel and Small Meetings," executives from Estée Lauder talked about how the global company manages small meetings spend. "That's the next phase" in refining the global meetings-management program at the company, said Jami Staplemann, director of global travel and meeting services for the cosmetics company. "We are now changing our expense-reporting tool globally. Part of our meeting strategy is to take every meeting's ID and make that a category in the T&E system."

Technology has allowed Estée Lauder to manage the global meetings program with a staff of just three. "When you have a lean team, you look for technology solutions, artificial-intelligence solutions and other solutions for support. On the meetings side, so much of it has become streamlined and automated," Staplemann said.

Astisyacara Siswanto, of Estée Lauder's global travel and meetings services, commented, "When I started, so much of my time was spent on sourcing. We decided we wanted to take a more strategic direction. We engaged two third-party firms. Now, when someone registers a meeting, we take a look and determine which third party is more appropriate to source that meeting. One of those third parties does most of the sourcing for our more simple meetings, and another handles the production-heavy events." 

Noted Staplemann, "In our role, we're managing partners and suppliers. My advice is to ask yourself, what is the corporate strategy of your organization, and what value do you bring?" She added, "We want to be at the table engaging with everyone at the senior level and letting everyone know we have a strategic plan."

The following session, "Small Meetings Solutions 360 Forum," had three tech providers pitching their offerings to the group. These were meetings-management services etouches, Bizly and Groupize.