Integrating Your Corporate Travel and Meetings Programs

*The following is a guest blog post by Cindy Heston, lead instructor for the Corporate Meetings Program and Design.

Here’s a litmus test for all buyers:

Hint: Answer the optimal answer. All answers are somewhat correct… Jeopardy music playing in the background.

What’s the best way to increase your visibility within your organization?

  1. Negotiate better supplier agreements
  2. Develop a company portal for travelers to leave comments and suggestions
  3. Integrate meetings and events into your transient corporate program

Here’s a litmus test for all suppliers:

Hint: Answer the optimal answer. All answers are somewhat correct… Jeopardy music playing in the background.

What’s the best way to expand your value to your business travel corporate clients?

  1. Build a Travel APP
  2. Develop KPI’s for effective account management
  3. Provide a platform that bridges corporate travel and event travel

If you answered #3 to both questions above you are a WINNER. Congratulations, now let’s see what’s behind door #3!

If you actually take the time to develop and design an integrated meetings and corporate travel program for your organization, you take the real prize: a seat with the top executives at your company. Along the way, you develop skill sets and insight that will only elevate your professional career to new heights… and I almost forgot about the fun part; the people, knowledge and the friendships you will develop in this journey will be worth every step; backwards (yes…hate to tell you, you may have to go backwards sometimes) and forward.

Why are there so few corporate accounts that have integrated the two sides of the travel conundrum?  From both sides, there are gaps. Hotels, for example, have two different internal contacts that don’t actively discuss or look for development opportunities for their “mutual” clients. Travel Technology is built for one or the other, and the integration features (if you can call them “integration” – I use that word loosely) are lackluster at best.

Finally, travel managers are too busy with transactional issues to deal with the complexity of event management and event managers are buried in the details of their events and client expectations. So here we stay, stuck in our separate worlds of “business travel” and “event management”, forever looking over the fence and at times throwing the ball back and forth, but never really getting into the game.

Well, I’m here to tell you…It’s TIME.  Just like we learned when we were all growing up, anything worth having is worth working for. Coming from either side it’s like an introduction into a different universe; what seems simple in the meetings side has no application in the business travel side and vice versa. Say PNR, QSI, or PRISM to an event planner and they will look at you like you’re speaking a different language. On the other hand, production deadlines, AV and gobos would inspire a travel manager to run for the hills. What seems intuitive becomes irrational on the other side, so why would you want to put yourself through this challenge? Because it’s about TIME. It’s about taking those transferable, diverse skills that we all have in either industry or transforming them into a beautiful transparent tapestry of “travel and event management”. It’s TIME for you to show how diversified your skills are within your organization, to elevate the perceived value of your role and build the bridge and thoughtfully design the two areas into one.

The GBTA “Corporate Meetings Program and Design” is a five-part series of modules that provides expert insights and stories around the challenges that we all face. One of the unique features about the five-session journey is that, once completed, you will have a strong foundation (knowledge, documents, white papers, studies) that you need to start, restart or enhance your current event and travel program.

The hallmark of the modules is that each one features two subject matter experts, adding up to a grand total of 10 SMEs. These individuals will share their stories of how they were able to succeed in their quest of event and travel management. These are individuals that you can work with as you continue down your path of total travel domination.

I promise you will laugh, cry and be surprised by the twists and turns of each of the module’s stories. Week to week you will be counting the seconds down in suspense waiting for the next module as you go through the quest with us all. We are here to help, provide insight and solutions throughout our five weeks together. One thing is for sure, you will build a new community of peers and friends that will share their bumps and bruises as they architect the bridge for us all to continue down our journey together.

You won’t regret your participation, and my hope for all that attend is that in the next series—YOU will be the SME that gets to tell your success story in your journey to designing event and travel management.

Here is the lineup of our winning team:

  • Module 1: Stakeholder Identification
    • Guest SMEs: Andi Stelpflug from Meetings and Incentives Worldwide and Kim Heche from Grant Thornton
    • Wednesday, October 11 | 2:00pm-3:30pm EST
  • Module 2: Building a Business Case
    • Guest SMEs: Amy Perrone from Genentech and Julie Haddix from Cvent
    • Wednesday, October 18 | 2:00pm-3:30pm EST
  • Module 3: Architect Your Meeting Program
    • Guest SMEs: Linsey Giant from Anthem and Kristen Koenig from World Travel
    • Wednesday, October 25 | 2:00pm-3:30pm EST
  • Module 4: Procurement and Travel Synergies
    • Guest SMEs: Jolee Goularte from Flex and Linda McNairy from American Express
    • Wednesday, November 1 | 2:00pm-3:30pm EST
  • Module 5: Technology and Data Visualization
    • Guest SMEs: Nick Pupa from DSM and Chris Walsh from Anthem
    • Wednesday, November 8 | 2:00pm-3:30pm EST

Hope to “see” you all on the first webinar on October 11, 2017! My next blog will give you an overview at the end of the 5 part series and some insights from the participants and guests speakers. See you next week!

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