My colleague Katy Phelps wrote the prequel to this blog - Travel and Meetings Convergence, Myth or Reality? Part 1 – you can find it here. In her blog, she spoke about the convergence between the worlds of the corporate travel buyer and the corporate meetings buyer and how, on the whole, this crossover was a myth. And it’s true, the cross over is small, especially when it comes to trade shows, but crossover there is.
There are two areas where I believe it is most apparent. The first is at the strategic procurement level (ie where large multinational organisations are spending a lot of money and big savings are to be had). The second is the booking of spaces for regular small meetings (where only the tiniest of margins exist and minimum savings can be made).
Strategic procurement in the meetings industry – also known as strategic meetings management – is mostly the domain of large multinational organisations that have the buying power to procure meetings services in the way they procure business travel. These organisations often have procurement managers that deal with meetings and travel whereas in other, smaller companies, it’s not necessarily seen as a procurement function.
These category specialists are responsible for agreeing the terms of contract with two or three suppliers in every category – from AV, production and creative, to venues, delegates and, of course, travel. They also look after their organisation’s large meetings. Their purpose is not to coordinate the creative elements of travel and meetings (which is best left to the event managers) but rather to consolidate the procurement of these functions and their suppliers. Do this well and considerable costs can be cut.
The other area where there is crossover between travel and meetings is in the procurement of high volumes of small meeting spaces by an organisation for, for example, sales meetings, training sessions, board meetings. In recent years, this function has increasingly become the responsibility of business travel managers who are able to draw on their experience and knowledge of consolidating large volumes of travel to transfer these procurement skills to the meetings category. Procurement managers are driving this consolidation of meetings spend because it gives them increased buying power, which leads to cost savings.
And so, in my opinion, the convergence between travel and meetings is very definitely a reality; it’s just that it’s a reality that is limited to certain job functions and it’s the business travel managers who are taking on meetings management but not vice versa. This is why at Centaur we have unique exhibitions for each industry and why, at TheMeetings Show UK, you’ll find no business travel content, but at the BusinessTravel Show you will find meetings management suppliers and educations sessions dedicated to meetings management and procurement in the conference programme.
David Chapple is event director of the Business Travel Show. Contact him on Twitter @btshowlondon or on 020 7970 4072.