How To Pare Your Budget in a Supplier-Advantaged Marketplace

Lanyon VP Kevin Iwamoto Offers Tips on Paring Event BudgetsWe all know that the Meetings, Events & Travel industry is a cyclical business based primarily on supply and demand.  Unfortunately for buyers, suppliers have held the advantage in negotiations for the last 3 to 4 years.  I was just going to list and share some best practices on how travel and meeting managers can stay within or even below budget, when my friend Kathy Stoodley, director, meetings & events in North America for CWT Meetings & Events, shared her suggestions recently via Ignite! Magazine

I happen to agree with Kathy’s recommendations at a high level:

1-Negotiate smarter, using total spend, not just sleeping rooms and meeting rooms;

2-Book in advance;

3-Broaden your search by considering tertiary or secondary cities, off peak days of the week, and investigate if downgrading the hotel standard is feasible;

4-Leverage current contracted space; now is the time to fully redeploy cancelled or attrition impacted space;

5-Stay closer to home, meet locally or domestically;

6-Reduce attendee counts;

7-Use technology tools like our Meeting Locator that can approximate ballpark destination cost analyses.  It will not only save you and your company a lot of time and research, but it will also document your sourcing process.

8-Reduce the time out of office. You would be amazed at how much you can save if you reduce your meetings by one day or even a half day, which reduces your need for an additional hotel night.

If anyone has any other practical and proven tips, please drop me a line and share your best  practices on staying within budget!

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New Lanyon Research: Companies Can Save Millions With Event Management Best Practices

Lanyon's new infographic shows how companies can save up to $2.2 million per year in event costsAdopting just two event management best practices puts you on the fast track to savings. That’s what a new Lanyon whitepaper concludes after studying 201 event executives at large companies.

The survey, conducted by International Marketing & Technology Solutions, Inc. (IMTS) in the fall of 2013, says that companies that centralize event planning and employ a central meetings policy can reap up to $2.2 million[1] in event savings annually.

That’s a pretty hefty number and hard to ignore! But what’s the best, most efficient way to make those best practices work? The answer: event management software. Event tech automates and centralizes planning across an entire organization. And, helps enforce a central meetings policy by including preferred, negotiated hotel partners in planners’ sourcing choices. 

But how does event tech produce savings? The study found significant majorities of those with centralized event planning processes and a meetings policy in place were able to measure their meetings/travel spend as well as track event spending against event ROI.

For more insights and findings from the survey, check out Lanyon’s colorful, easy to read infographic. And, stay tuned for more on the survey, and a link to download the whitepaper, in a new post next week.

Do you centralize event planning? Have you implemented a central meetings policy? And finally, can you track costs and measure event ROI, as a result? Please share how that’s working for you here.

 

[1] Based on Lanyon customer results: 10-25% average in annual savings with event management software

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GBTA Reveals Best and Worst Travel Taxes Across Top 50 U.S. Destinations

One of my favorite industry annual reports comes from my good friends at the GBTA Foundation.  If you don’t use this report in your annual forecasting and industry overviews, you need to. 

In the report, the Best and Worst Travel Taxes in the U.S, the list of shame is definitely the top 10 U.S. cities with the highest discriminatory travel tax rates and the top 10 cities with the highest total tax burden. 

For meeting planning, you should take the cities and locations on this list very seriously, as it can add significant attendee costs to the overall budget.  In contrast, you should support cities on the lowest total tax burden and the top 10 cities with the lowest discriminatory travel taxes. 

You can send a strong message to the politicians and bureaucrats that consciously target and add travel taxes to their cities by booking business somewhere else -- where the tax burdens are not such an issue.

Happy reading!

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GBTA Research Reveals Insight into Hotel Policies and Programs

A new GBTA study, Insight into Hotel Policies and Programs: United States, has found that more than half (58%) of travel managers feel they have more control over their company’s hotel policy than they did a few years ago. When it comes to hotel programs, corporate travel managers view their primary responsibilities as:

- Driving savings / controlling costs (70%)

- Ensuring travelers are using preferred suppliers (54%)

- Motivating travel behavior rather than mandating policy (41%)

- Driving compliance (39%)

A vast majority of corporate travel managers surveyed (91%) indicated their company had a preferred hotel program in place. The average corporate preferred hotel program contains 280 hotel properties that employees can choose from, with individual properties representing 69% of hotel agreements and chain-wide agreements making up 31%.   When corporate travel managers are deciding which hotels to sign as preferred providers, location of hotel (85%) and negotiated discounts (82%) are taken into consideration most often. More than half (53%) of those surveyed also take the safety and security of a property into consideration. 

For us at Lanyon, these results demonstrate the value of using technology like Lanyon’s to manage a very challenging annual sourcing process.  For global clients, the technology provides consistency and data documentation that is defensible and automated, creating a win/win for both buyers and suppliers.

The study is available exclusively to GBTA members, and non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailing pyachnes@gbtafoundation.org.

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China Business Travel Spend Outpacing Slow Adoption of Travel Management Tech, Process Improvements

I’m just returning from the 2014 GBTA China Conference in Shanghai, and I'm so delighted that Lanyon could partner our RegOnline® technology with GBTA Asia Pacific  to improve registrations and payments for the conference in Chinese (Mandarin).

It was also great to see the GBTA Board, lead by President & CEO, Donna Kelliher, attending the conference in a show of support. 

Based on the excellent sessions and agenda that were especially tailored for the local Chinese corporate marketplace, the show’s numbers are a direct reflection of its success. The Chinese corporate marketplace is exploding, but Chinese travel and meetings managers need to  modernize their ways -- especially with regards to technology utilization, integrations and process refinement.

GBTA BTI™ Outlook – China, is a semi-annual analysis that spotlights unfolding economic events at home and abroad and shows how they impact China's business travel market. The report, sponsored by Visa Inc., includes the GBTA BTI, an index of business travel spending that distills market performance over a period of time. Some highlights of GBTA BTI Outlook – China:

- China's total business travel spend is forecast to grow 16.5% in 2014 – more than double the rate of the country's GDP growth;

- China's recent announcement of 2013Q4 and full year GDP growth of 7.7% paints a picture of slow (by China standards), but steady growth.

What was most interesting to me is the projection that the Chinese will surpass the U.S even sooner than the anticipated 2016 projected time frame, in terms of overall traffic and volume generated for business travel and meetings.  Clearly there’s a lot of work to be done education-wise for the Chinese marketplace, and I have no doubt that GBTA Asia and GBTA Global will lead the way to help the Chinese members and suppliers up their game and modernize their practices and processes. The Chinese are ready and hungry for best-practice sharing and technology!

GBTA members can get free access to the study via the GBTA Foundation web portal, http://hub.gbta.org/resources2/view/profile/id/27828, and non-members can get access to the report for a fee. 

Congratulations to GBTA and their leadership for an excellent conference!

Were you at the show? What were your impressions? Please share here.

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Collaborative Economy Could Have Serious Implications for Meetings

Collaborative Economy in the Meetings and Events IndustryGuest post written by Michelle Bruno, MPC
Michelle Bruno is a writer, blogger, content strategist and publisher specializing in event-industry technology. Visit her LinkedIn profile at Linkedin.com/in/michellejbruno
 

Living in an economy where people fund, make, and share services with each other is defined by researcher Jeremiah Owyang as a, “Collaborative Economy.” It is a strong, growing movement that encompasses pre-owned goods, professional services, transportation, and space rentals—all of which are components of the meetings and events industry – and large corporations are paying attention.

In 2013, Owyang launched Crowd Companies, an association dedicated to helping large brands engage with the Collaborative Economy. Numerous corporations, including Verizon, Adobe, Staples, Avis, Walgreens, Daimler AG, and Home Depot, have bought into the concept.

It sounds wonderful— except that when individuals buy from each other instead of buying from companies, they upset traditional business models. This new Collaborative Economy has the potential to disrupt the meetings and events industry in a number of ways:

  • Low-cost lodging alternatives, such as Air BnB, take attendees away from contracted housing, making attrition more of an issue for event planners;
  • Ride-sharing services, like Uber or Lyft, change the transportation dynamic around a meeting or destination by disrupting taxi business models, city taxes, and traffic;
  • Sharing services place event planners at odds with corporate policies designed to safeguard and protect employees;
  • The use of unsanctioned services by event participants causes planners to lose some ability to negotiate discounts and amenities;
  • Meeting at locations outside of convention centers and hotels, or virtually through mobile and other technologies, redefine the meeting environment; and
  • The questioning of excess over access, a core principle of the Collaborative Economy, leads to fundamental changes in meetings design.  

What should meeting professionals do to prepare? Make it a top priority to join discussions around the Collaborative Economy.  Planners and suppliers need to understand the implications of sharing resources and draft policies, or best practices, around engaging in or refraining from such activities. Event planners must assess their coverage as new types of insurance policies emerge. And, if the Collaborative Economy represents an opportunity rather than a threat, event planners should prepare to benefit from this unique collaboration.

Are you on board with the Collaborative Economy? Share your thoughts with us below.

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ACTIVE Network, Business Solutions + Lanyon = Lanyon

ACTIVE Network, Business Solutions Teams Up With Lanyon

On Feb. 20th, ACTIVE Network made an announcement that the Business Solutions Group of which I am part of would be split off from the rest of ACTIVE and merged with another Vista Equity company, Lanyon. The new combined group will be known as Lanyon. Since that announcement, the industry has been abuzz with chatter via social media, e-mails, news articles, etc.

The overall reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, most notably by leading industry analysts including my good friend Christopher J. Dwyer, research director at Ardent Partners, a leading supply management research and advisory firm. He went on record to say: “To capture, control, and manage meetings, events and transient hotel spend, the contemporary enterprise requires a series of end-to-end processes that address hotel and venue sourcing, analytics, reporting, spend management, and compliance. Once combined, the ‘new’ Lanyon offering can help procurement and sourcing teams gain a holistic, enterprise-level view of their events-management programs.”

But what does this really mean to the many entities that comprise the eco-system of our industry and marketplace?  I thought I would share with you my views as to how this will impact each key player in the eco-system.

C Level:  The new Lanyon for the near term will be the only true enterprise technology platform where senior executives will be able to receive and view their enterprise spend data not just for corporate travel expenses, but also for the first time, their meetings/events spend. Today, based on the maturity of the business travel marketplace and corporate programs, they are receiving tons of big data around their business travel spend, even boiling it down to what is known as “Total Cost of Trip”.  Today for the meetings and events industry, with decentralization prevalent at most corporations, with numerous point solution suppliers and disparate data gathering formats and integrations, it is very challenging to get close to a “Total Cost of Attendee” figure. The new Lanyon will be the only true enterprise cloud solution that will be able to provide that level of big data to the marketplace.

Travel & Meeting Buyers: The new Lanyon Smart Cloud technology will be scalable for your respective programs; your program maturity can incorporate functionalities and features as you need them.  You will be able to have smarter and more meaningful negotiations with your suppliers as you will be able to leverage your enterprise spend for not just your transient spend but also for your meetings/events spend.  In this day and age where the demand is outpacing the supply and the hotel and venue suppliers hold the cards when it comes to rate and amenity negotiations, Lanyon clients will have a significant advantage over other companies because their spend intelligence will give them better information to negotiate with their program suppliers.

Suppliers:  Lanyon customers will have better data and information to conduct more productive negotiations with you.  Intelligent clients who truly know and understand their buying patterns can focus on being more strategic in terms of relationship development with you.  Prioritization of responses to Lanyon driven eRFPs will result in better market share and revenue performance for your corporate agreements.

Procurement/Finance:  Lanyon’s technology will allow for optimal supplier rationalization especially for strategic sourcing initiatives.  Companies can easily eliminate 3-4 current point solution technologies servicing niche areas of  transient, meetings & events business with a singular enterprise technology cloud that is exclusive to only Lanyon. The cost savings and program management becomes less costly and difficult to manage resulting in a more meaningful and productive preferred supplier relationship.

Intermediaries:  The combined customer base for Lanyon is unparalleled and is the envy of the industry.  Working with Lanyon and our enterprise solutions will require little to no change management for your clients as the majority of them currently use Lanyon technology via their transient programs and/or via their meetings/events SMMP.

In closing I have to share a story with you. Five to six years ago, after leaving the corporate world to join StarCite, I recommended to our then CEO that we should look into purchasing or merging with Lanyon in order to produce a truly enterprise technology that could provide comprehensive spend data and functionality to corporate buyers as well as to the meetings/event buyers and planners.  Unfortunately by the time he looked into that possibility, Lanyon was purchased by Vista Equity.

Now fast forward to present day. Vista Equity also owns ACTIVE Network | StarCite via ACTIVE Network.  It is indeed a small world where the right things go full circle.  I am excited to be part of this historic merger as I believed in it many years ago.  I believe in the marketplace power of the newly combined Lanyon.  I am privileged and excited to be a part of the executive team that will transform this marketplace and drive the much needed convergence of players.  Please continue to watch this space as we prove to everyone that our strategy and roadmap for the industry is not just the best path forward; it’s the right path.

Resources:

Read more about the ACTIVE Network, Business Solutions merger with Lanyon!

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10 Ideas for Monetizing Your Mobile Event App

Here's another great post on mobile apps and making them work for you -- from Rebecca Yetzer, Content Marketer, at ACTIVE Network:

10 Ideas for Monetizing Your Mobile Event App -- From ACTIVE NetworkThe costs you can’t eliminate for a mobile app for events can be mitigated somewhat through the use of sponsorships or advertising within the app. Unfortunately, it can be impossible to demand the price for digital ads you once received for print ads in the guide. The stronger your mobile event app adoption rate, the better for both demand and pricing (Read our blog on 12 Tips for Improving Adoption of Mobile Event Apps.)

Here are 10 ideas to spur how to monetize mobile event apps:

  1. Title sponsor. Sponsor gets a logo on every page.
  2. Rotating banner ads. These ads can rotate from the front page to various feature pages within the app.
  3. Splash screens. Interstitial pages that appear when the user clicks an icon, but before their requested page comes up (just like the ads on YouTube). Be judicious in your use of these, however, as they can interrupt the attendee’s experience with your event.
  4. Enhanced exhibitor listings. These can be highlighted listings within the exhibit directory,  listings with additional links and materials for download,  or listings that are moved to the top of a page on an alphabetical list (like Google ads).
  5. Push notifications. Let exhibitors send messages to all or select groups of attendees. Again, however, be careful. Too many “Stop by the XYZ booth for your chance to win ABC,” will get old quickly. Set a limit of notifications per day and collaborate with exhibitors to make their notifications meaningful. 
  6. Brand specific features. Let exhibitors brand certain portions of the mobile app, such as the agenda or scheduling tool.
  7. Gamification. Exhibitors are often included as parts of games and some pay for this inclusion. But make a conscious decision about whether or not monetizing your game is right for you. You might prefer to plan your game around encouraging specific behaviors, and sponsors might not fit into that model.
  8. Exhibit surveys. Sell the right for an exhibitor to host a survey within your app. Maybe they’re looking for feedback on a new product – or crowdsourcing new features. Most mobile apps have a polling or survey feature that can be used.
  9. Bundling sponsorship opportunities. Some planners find it onerous to sell small mobile app sponsorship opportunities and would rather bundle the options within larger event sponsorships.
  10. Paid technical content. There are highly technical conferences that actually charge attendees for the mobile event app – but their conference proceedings were often sold as paper documents, as well, and their apps are filed with enduring content. Think about any content your organization does sell. Could it be offered as an in-app purchase at the event?

Check out the other blogs in our mobile series (links below) or download the complete ACTIVE Network Mobile Playbook for everything you need to know about mobile event apps!

Let us know your suggestions for going mobile below in the comments section:

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The SMART EVENTS Cloud – Key event marketing and strategic meetings management product highlights from 2013

This post is written by Cece Salomon-Lee, our director of marketing who also oversees our product marketing.

In our 2014 Event Trends to watch, we highlighted the impact that Big Data and Strategic Meetings Management will have for event planners and organizations. When we look back at 2013, we believe that these key product developments and announcements will help you with your event marketing and strategic meetings management (SMM) needs this year.

The SMART EVENTS™ Cloud Announced

At our Global Leaders Forum and Product Summit, we formally announced the ACTIVE Network SMART EVENTS Cloud, the only cloud-based event management platform offering a complete 360-degree view across all an organization's meetings and events activity -- from small meetings to large conferences. Where else can you bring together two leading solutions – ACTIVE Conference™ for event marketing and large conferences with ACTIVE StarCite™ for SMM programs – into a single platform?

Watch this video to learn more about the SMART EVENTS Cloud:

Plan, build and hold your conferences on the go

ACTIVE Conference-to-go for conference managementAs part of the SMART EVENTS Cloud announcement, we also announced a Conference-to-Go solution, which is a configurable, off-the-shelf solution enabling users to quickly and easily plan conferences. For exhibitor and sponsors, we introduced enhanced lead generation tools to more easily acquire and manage sales prospects at an event. This includes easily capturing event leads by scanning badges with a mobile device using QR Code, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), and Near Field Communication (NFC) technologies.

 Introducing Small Meetings 2.0

ACTIVE Network Small Meetings Solution Within the Small Meetings 2.0 solution, planners can now more easily manage their meetings and events, while providing visibility via a single solution. The solution also includes a revamped Request for Proposal wizard – find, select and compare event venues in just 5 easy steps. And with the location-based venue search tool, planners can visually view hotels and venues plotted on a map based on the desired location.

 Plus more accurate, faster responses from suppliers with ACTIVE MarketView 3.0

ACTIVE MarketView - simple and easy eRFP management platformThe new ACTIVE MarketView 3.0 provides many benefits for our customers. The new single-response page and pre-populated answers enables hotel sales team to review, manage and respond to eRFPS faster. Instead of spending time filling out the eRFPS, hotels can focus on the quality of their responses. Quicker responses. More accurate eRFPS. What’s not to love?

Read the blog posting

Plus these additional product enhancements …

  • Meetings Intelligence - Thoughout the year, we have been enhancing our meetings intelligence module in ACTIVE StarCite to provide users with more flexibility to report on and analyze data into costs associated with accommodation, travel and registration.
  • Attendee Management Module – Our goal is to make it easier to manage your event attendees from registration to attendance. This included more flexibility in managing roommate sharing, showing a person's personal agenda based on chosen activities and allocated 1:1 meetings, and ensuring that event and registration websites comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation ACT of 1973.
  • Spend Management Module - An integral part of a strategic meetings management program is ensuring that your meetings and events meet corporate compliance and governance policies. With the ability to establish flexible business rules, users no longer have to set up multiple rules for a single policy workflow within the Spend Management module. Notification emails were enhanced to include key information based on the recipient’s role and corporate policies. And “dependent questions” enable users to only answer questions based on previous responses. All of these enhancements save users time throughout the planning process.

 

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