The stakes are especially high for companies with little knowledge of who’s booking meetings across the organization.
Companies that ignore these risks leave themselves open to significant financial losses, law suits, duty of care failure, embezzlement charges, brand damage, etc.
But the reality is, meeting planning is decentralized in many companies. Travel contracts may be managed by corporate finance, while regional sales meetings are planned locally by administrative assistants and sales managers. Adding to the challenge, many events organized outside a central meeting department are booked offline – arranged in a friendly phone call to a favorite venue and paid for on the company card.
The upshot? A lot of meetings and events data goes missing. Or, it’s scattered across multiple business units and geographic regions. Gathering information manually is simply too time-intensive. And so, many meetings fly under the radar.
The trouble is, these unmanaged meetings expose companies to considerable risk.
New Tools Safeguard Your Company
Fortunately, a new generation of venue sourcing and booking solutions eases the pain.
These solutions do more than simply serve as RFP tools, which focus mainly on the venue search and bidding process. New platforms automate the entire booking path, including stakeholder communication, venue negotiations and contracting.
As a result, they capture more meetings data than ever before. Plus, they automatically curate the information and house it in a single portal. That gives procurement leaders unprecedented visibility into M&E activity throughout the entire planning process.
These elegant solutions are easy to master for sales managers, administrative assistants and anyone else in your organization with meeting arranger responsibilities. Regardless of their level of experience, they can master all the tools they need in roughly 30 minutes – during a single lunch hour with time to spare.
At the same time, the technology has features power planners appreciate. There are robust tools, including interactive bid summaries, negotiation trackers and more. They give planners the real-time insights they need to hit savings targets and keep the meetings program on track.
Here are six ways to leverage the latest meetings procurement technology to mitigate financial and legal risk. Examples are from the new etouches venue sourcing.
- Standardize meetings registration and approval. Now, you can centralize sourcing data without having to centralize planning teams. A simple online meeting request gets the process started. It gives you transparency into meeting and event requests throughout your organization and control over the approval process. With online meetings registration, you establish a clear process that tracks events automatically from request through contract. The technology automates communications, as well, to keep stakeholders in the loop and events on budget, throughout the planning process.
- Lock in key contract clauses. Create a core set of contract clauses and set them to auto-populate on every request for proposal created in your platform.Many meetings programs lose tens of thousands of dollars annually in cancellation and attrition penalties alone. This is an area where an inexperienced employee negotiating venue contracts can expose your company to considerable risk. Don’t let hotels set levels of compensation. Instead, establish reasonable fees for your organization (for example, 25% attrition up to the day of arrival). Then, lock them into each RFP to avoid stiff penalties.To further protect your company, ensure “No Walk” and “Resell” clauses auto-populate on RFPs. So before submitting a bid, venues must agree not to relocate your guests. They also must consent to make their best effort to sell reserved room nights your company doesn’t use and credit your account for those they resell.
- Develop procurement rules. Specify in your system a minimum and maximum number of venues per RFP. As a rule of thumb, we recommend sending each request to 3-8 venues to foster competitive bidding and secure better offers.
- Optimize team knowledge. New solutions like etouches venue sourcing provide a single portal for storing the team’s collective intelligence on venues. Planners can share notes about venues, including good and bad experiences. When searching for best options, consider the value added/risk avoidance benefits of comments like, “Caution: Unannounced renovation planned for Dec. 2018.” or, “Company has a $5,700 cancellation credit that expires in Oct. 2018.” or, “Poor service. I don’t recommend.”
- Get instant duty of care visibility. Security was the number one area where meetings professionals expected to see budget increases in 2017, according to Meeting Professionals International’s Meetings Outlook™, 2016 Fall Edition. Security will no doubt be top of mind this year, too. It’s not only concerns about terrorism and political unrest, but also pandemics and weather/natural disasters.
Companies need sophisticated tracking tools to locate their travelers instantly in case of emergency. Advanced venue sourcing solutions do just that. With powerful global calendars, they provide a comprehensive picture of all your company’s meetings and events by planning status.
You can drill down for key details, like meeting owner, attendees, dates, venue, location, and more. If an emergency arises, you’ll be able to locate employees fast.
The bottom line is this: Many companies still struggle to adopt centralized contracting and approval processes for events, according to the 2018 Global Meetings and Events Forecast by American Express Meetings & Events. That leaves them exposed to substantial risks.
The new generation of venue sourcing solutions can help.
This technology streamlines and standardizes the meetings procurement process. Plus, it provides robust tools, like a meeting registration and approval process, sophisticated data capture, and an enterprise calendar. You’ll gain unprecedented visibility into M&E activity companywide and leverage new insights to minimize legal and financial risk.
Written by: Mike Tenholder