Convergence is trending among travel and event departments at big companies. Fueled by technology, it will only become more important to both sectors in the future if old-school thinking doesn't get in the way.
There’s so much overlap between travel management and event spending that corporations are increasingly combining the functions.
This consolidation is happening quickly in a bid to increase savings and corporate efficiency. With air and hotel costs on the rise, sustained savings are a focus among stakeholders across organizations.
The Global Business Travel Association and Cvent polled 124 North American event planners and travel managers who are at least “somewhat involved in meetings, events, and travel at their organization” for a report titled Consolidation Two Years Later: Shifts, Trends, and Status Quo.
Research found that the consolidation of travel, meetings, and event programs has grown 62 percent since 2015; by 2019 two-thirds of programs will be fully consolidated if trends continue, according to those polled.
This makes sense given the larger trends of the corporate travel and events industries; technology, along with analytics and data solutions, are allowing stakeholders to make smarter decisions about travel spending and planning.
“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.”
Legacy Organizational Issues
This consolidation is also happening across a wider variety of institutional programs than in 2015, but organizational issues remain an impediment. It can be hard for related groups to get on the same page if they are siloed from each other or report to different leaders.
Turf battles can get in the way.
When it comes to reasons for not consolidating, 76 percent said that meetings, events, and travel groups simply don’t report to the same department. Another 66 percent cited problems with aggregating data across different groups, while 47 percent said stakeholders weren’t aligned on business and technology goals.
Technology platforms that are shared among divisions can help ease some of these difficulties, acting as a compromise between full integration and nothing at all.
“If full consolidation is not an option at this time, investigating and implementing use of management technologies may bring travel managers and event planners some of the valuable benefits of consolidation,” states the report. “Overall, there has been a tremendous increase over the past two years in travel managers and event planners with non-consolidated programs finding meeting and event management technology attractive, possibly in part due to two prominent industry trends: data capture and attendee experience.”
Photo credit: The crowd at TEDActive 2015 in Whistler, Canada. Meeting planning departments are merging with the travel management function at large corporations. Marla Aufmuth/TED / Flickr