Companies should consider ‘total hospitality’ programmes to optimise their meetings, long stay and transient room spend, delegates heard at the ITM annual conference.
The concept was mooted during a panel session looking at how integrating travel buying brings benefits including savings through more spend leverage, and better management information and visibility.
The panel agreed that driving this integration process elicits a range of challenges, including getting buy-in both from suppliers and company directors, and overcoming internal resistance from those "emotionally" attached to organising events.
Capita Travel & Events director Sam Welch cited challenges such as company policies being travel-orientated, rather than taking meetings needs into account, and that often meetings arrangers tended to work within “silos” – centralising the process meant better data, and therefore more “intelligent sourcing” and savings.
One travel manager said that completing a big “data cleansing” exercise while merging information from separate travel and meetings programmes had resulted in much greater visibility on hotel spend, and better chain-wide agreements.
Chris Parkin, corporate sales director at Hilton Worldwide, said looking at total spend meant opportunities for both suppliers and buyers, and that viewing good data was key to being able to see what market share stands to be gained from a corporate when negotiating deals.
The panelists agreed that more integrated programmes help improve policy leakage, with communication – between all parties involved, internally and externally – and data as the key pillars for successful implementation.
The ITM delegate who suggested the concept of ‘total hospitality’ said this should incorporate long stay elements such as relocation, global mobility and service apartment programmes.
The session heard that Business Travel Show research showed 58 per cent of travel buyers had MICE in their remit in 2013, up from 40 per cent in 2011 – the panel recommended that with this growth, more education around managing meetings spend was needed.