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Survey: event programs consolidation leads to success

Nearly all travel managers and event planners with consolidated programs report success


January 4, 2018
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Alexandria, Va.—Travel, meeting and event program consolidation—when organizations connect internal structures that overlap in function, but have not historically communicated with each other—has grown 62 percent since 2015. If this trend continues at this rate, two-thirds (68 percent) of programs will be fully consolidated by 2019, according to new research from the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), in partnership with Cvent, Inc., a meetings, events, and hospitality technology company.

“Organizations can increase efficiencies, reduce redundancies and ultimately save time and money by bringing together travel, events and even marketing programs,” said Patrick Smith, chief marketing officer at Cvent. “These programs should work hand in hand with each other, instead of operating in silos. We are seeing more travel and events programs come together at a faster rate than ever before, pointing to growing industry recognition that all of these functions support and reinforce each other—and generate better business outcomes.”

This research is the second edition of a survey of travel managers and event planners in North America, aiming to discover what portion of the market includes consolidated programs, what factors drove the move to consolidation, and what successes, if any, companies have experienced as a result. Nearly all respondents with consolidated programs reported success, more so than two years ago—a sign that the full benefits and value of consolidation may not be realized immediately after implementation.

“Patience is key when it comes to consolidation,” said Kate Vasiloff, GBTA research director. “Consolidated programs have enjoyed incredible successes, but the benefits may not come immediately. Travel managers and event planners with consolidated programs report greater success now than they did two years ago, making the value of consolidation well worth the time and investment it takes to implement, troubleshoot, and streamline a unified program.”

Key findings
Over the past two years, the trend to collapse meetings, events, and/or travel program management has nearly doubled.

  • Nearly all (97 percent) of those with fully consolidated programs report great success in achieving their consolidation goals, marking a 14 percent increase in reported success from two years ago.
  • Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of meetings, events and/or travel programs are either fully consolidated or in the process of consolidating.
  • Since 2015, the proportion of travel managers saying they are currently considering consolidation dropped by nearly one-half (46 percent), with many more adopting consolidation than not.
  • When looking at specific consolidation goals, improving transparency (83 percent), leveraging spend/maximizing spending (79 percent) and increasing efficiencies (77 percent) remain the top drivers, with many citing improvements in these areas as significant benefits to consolidation.

Challenges to consolidation are changing
In 2015, securing leadership buy-in for consolidation and using management technology were the greatest challenges for travel managers. A lot has changed in two years, however, as reported challenges to securing leadership support have dropped (47 percent in 2017 versus 56 percent in 2015). This is likely due in part to the growing use of technology, with the number of travel managers using meetings, event, and travel management technology nearly doubling over the same period (60 percent in 2017 versus 34 percent in 2015). Even though more programs are consolidating at a faster rate, nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of travel managers and event planners do not have a consolidated meetings, events, or travel program, with no plans to implement one, while just one in seven (14 percent) are considering consolidation.

Motivations for consolidation
Over the past two years, consolidation has become increasingly attractive to organizations as they begin to recognize its benefits. Seventy-five percent of travel managers and event planners expressed interest in improving visibility and transparency of overall travel, meetings, and event costs via consolidation. Other factors for moving towards consolidation included obtaining better negotiated rates and dynamic pricing (69 percent)—which increased 35 percent since 2015—and better leveraging of spend and maximized spending (66 percent).