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CWT Exchange 2015 - the benefits of consolidating travel, meetings and events

CWT clients discuss how to make savings of 19% by consolidating travel and meetings

This year at Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s annual client event CWT Exchange, attendees downloaded an app which guided them up to and through the day and allowed them to contribute to the event through live polls – the results were enlightening.
BBC presenter Steph McGovern hosted the conference under the theme ‘Meet Travel Explore’ and Wired editor-in-chief David Rowan gave a keynote speech on the rate of change in the industry.

Guests chose to attend breakout sessions on the topics of consolidation, healthcare transparency regulations, the sharing economy and mobile technology. They were encouraged to share their views through discussion and live interaction through the app.  We will be downloading the thoughts shared and collected on the day in bitesize CWT Exchange downloads this week.

"More companies are leveraging their joint travel and meetings volume for negotiations. The secret is a
well-managed stakeholder engagement strategy - and travel and meetings managers who are
passionate about driving success."

Kari Wendel, senior director - global SMM strategy & solutions, CWT Meetings & Events For the first time, CWT fully integrated its events arm, CWT Meetings and Events into the day. They ran a breakout session focussing on consolidating business travel and meetings and events.

Here’s what the session revealed:
Exploring – the benefits of consolidation
Research gained from speaking to our clients shows that business travel managers are increasingly expected to take responsibility for meetings management – and many are unsure what to do. Kari Wendel invited attendees to join the discussion and share their experience. The aim was to find out how bringing the categories together could benefit organisations.

Delegates agreed there were often vast differences in the way companies treated travel and meetings, with travel managed in accordance to policies while there is usually no policy at all in relation to meetings. They were asked to consider drivers for a consolidated programme. Live polling through the CWT Exchange app revealed that 76% of delegates thought savings was the most compelling argument for a consolidated travel and meetings programme.

Kari pointed out that companies that have consolidated with a centralised meetings strategy, not even necessarily consolidating with business travel, saved 19.3% on average. Improving visibility and transparency of meetings, events and travel spend can be a powerful tool to negotiate a better deal with suppliers.

She said: ‘Sixty per cent of travel spend is on meetings – if you can’t see that how can you leverage it? You need to have control over your spending.’

Further discussion revealed that some travel managers had struggled to gain stakeholder buy-in for a consolidated approach – particularly when PAs enjoy arranging meetings themselves. Many delegates agreed that savings might be a less compelling driver than safety and security, which was high in everyone’s minds.

They pointed to benefits of consolidation, including:
• Traveller tracking – knowing where your employees are in a crisis was important for the individual, the business and an organisation’s reputation
• Compliance – a centralised policy gives the meeting arranger information about approved venues and negotiated deals, streamlining the booking process
• Consistency – each employee has the same experience whether they are a ‘traveller’ or an ‘attendee’, reducing stress
• A one-stop shop approach improves the user experience, with a registration site allowing some choice within set perimeters and also capturing data

At the end of the session, the value of a combined meetings and travel programme was clearly understood. The challenge lies around stakeholder engagement and Kari agreed it could seem ‘overwhelming’. She offered to supply attendees with case studies about clients who have taken up this challenge and succeeded.

During the event CWT also demonstrated its new data reporting tool CWT AnalytIQs and gave updates on its mobile app CWT To Go. Steph McGovern also moderated a panel of experts from United Airlines, Marriott, Travelport, Citiport and CWT as they discussed the industry.

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