Skift Take

We anticipate a convergence between travel expense management and meeting planning. Companies will see a boom in internal meetings for team bonding and training as the pandemic subsides. So they'll need software to rein in costs.

SAP Concur digitized travel expense management. Now it’s looking to digitize how companies self-manage meetings, such as for training sessions, quarterly team meetings, diversity workshops, small customer conferences, and board meetings.

On Monday the German enterprise software giant SAP announced that the sales team at Concur, its corporate travel-and expense-management company, will now also sell a solution for planning small meetings.

“Customers can now buy a small meetings tool in a single contract in a single existing relationship with their Concur sales rep,” said Brian Hace, vice president of global travel strategy for SAP Concur. “They’ll get an end-to-end integration with our other tools for travel and expense management.”

Concur’s online tool will integrate with its flagship software to help corporate travelers manage their expense accounts and travel. The solution is from Groupize, a startup that pioneered an online booking tool for small meetings — enabling the company-wide adoption of rules for how companies plan meetings.

Concur Event Management By Groupize

The Concur Event Management By Groupize tool. Source: SAP

“For several years we’ve had integrated partners that specialize in meetings, and Groupize has been one of these in our app ecosystem,” Hace said. “What’s new here is we’ve elevated Groupize’s tool to a shared operating model that we call a solution extension.”

The SAP Concur announcement speaks to a broader trend that the pandemic is speeding up.

“As companies go back to offices, there will be more internal meetings across teams and with remote workers,” said Charles De Gaspe Beaubien, founder and chief customer officer of Groupize. “Department heads will be asking questions. ‘Where are these folks? How are the costs escalating?'”

The Concur Event Management tool lets a company set policy controls to boost compliance for sourcing meeting venues, booking travel related to the meetings within Concur’s booking tool, tracking employee whereabouts, and providing visibility into attendees and the full cost of events.

The new Concur tool powered by Groupize may apply to a few areas. A prime example is companies that hold self-managed staff meetings, say once a quarter, where dispersed workers arrive in one spot. Today, administrative assistants often plan such work as booking hotel room blocks or venue space manually. Enterprise-wide software integrated with other company systems could prove more efficient.

Yet companies looking to host large conferences with many external attendees will find fuller functionality with solutions from other providers, such as Cvent and Hopin, some experts said.

For small events, Concur’s tool has some perks that other software makers may soon mimic. It lets users add workers’ profiles already in their system for expense management to various meetings for more seamless reporting. But it can also create profiles for visiting guests, such as training leaders, consultants, speakers, or board members who might be attending a small event.

Groupize Alisa CEO

Groupize CEO Alisa de Gaspe Beaubien.

“Most companies are now relying on fewer resources and an increasingly limited budget,” said Alisa de Gaspe Beaubien, Groupize CEO. “We’ve focused our efforts on enhancing self-service capabilities, simplicity, and addressing emerging industry demands like hybrid meetings.”

Groupize, based in Boston, has doubled in staffing since January 2020, as it adapts to rising demand for meeting planning software. The company was on the Skift 2019 Corporate Travel Innovators List.

The definition of “meeting” is expanding during the pandemic recovery. For example, Groupize has one client that’s a major e-commerce player that has broadened the definition of “meeting” to include weeklong training. Hybrid meetings are also a growing area for software companies to tackle.

“Many companies are reorganizing so that many travel managers are now reporting to the same department head that the meeting planners are reporting to,” said Charles De Gaspe Beaubien. “Executives realize that all these meetings now require due diligence and budget management just like travel expenses.”

For more on the broader trends behind this story, event planners can read EventMB and Skift Pro subscribers can read the Future of Work Briefing.

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Tags: concur, expense management, expense technology, expenses, group business, group travel, groupize, groups, hybrid meetings, meeting planners, meeting planning, meetings, meetings and events, remote workers, sap, small businesses

Photo credit: The IAEA 1568th Board of Governors meeting at the Agency headquarters in Vienna, Austria, in March 2021. Dean Calma / IAEA

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