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Does combining business travel and events spend deliver benefits?

Reed & Mackay Hall: BTSE Stand: K50
Does combining business travel and events spend deliver benefits?

In this edition of 'The View' we ask Reed & Mackay CEO – UK, Europe & Global Events Julie Oliver whether organisations can find better value and cost-savings by combining business travel and meetings and events spend.

Where are we generally seeing costs rise for business travel and meetings and events?

While air fares should be settling down this year, hotel rates may rise depending on where a meeting or event is being held. But it’s the entire cost of living that affects prices. These, in turn, impact travel expenses, such as food and beverage, public transport etc.

Plus there’s the recent news that the UK government has raised Air Passenger Duty on non-economy fares. And several major US airlines have increased their prices to check a bag, which, if travelling frequently, will add up. So pressure remains on travel budgets.

If corporates are looking to find savings on travel budgets, what benefits can combined spend bring?

There are so many benefits! If you look at it solely from a financial cost perspective, bringing these two strands of the business together means you have entire spend visibility in one report. It’s that scale piece. For example, if your agency has negotiated with preferred suppliers for hotel room bookings for business travel, they’re likely to be able to negotiate a better day delegate rate for meetings at the same property.

With Navan as our parent company, Reed & Mackay’s buying power is very strong, meaning we can negotiate better rates for clients, particularly when they’re combining their business travel and meetings and events spend.

Are there other benefits?

Yes, the benefits go beyond these clear financial ones. An organisation’s CSR strategy is an integral part of its business; traveller wellbeing is crucial. A business wants to ensure all their travellers and delegates attending conferences or incentives are safe and that they’re able to track them wherever they are in the world. Using one system across every part of travel makes risk mitigation that much simpler. 

The next benefit is the boost to sustainable travel. If an organisation has ESG goals or has Science Based Targets it wants to reach, combining spend means all your sustainability reporting is in one place and your business can easily view it.

And the final significant benefit is that it supports an organisation’s people strategy. A positive company culture sits at the heart of an organisation and, with hybrid working here to stay, business travel and meetings and events play a huge role in generating a strong company culture, as well as attracting and retaining talent. Again, it’s the clear visibility piece.

Our vision is to deliver all of the above, and we are on a good pathway to delivering it through our investments in technology and new platforms.

Can combined spend make it easier to drive travel policy adoption and compliance?

Absolutely; having one contract directly with suppliers across their central payment mechanisms can not only save on costs, but save on time – something travel and event buyers are always looking for. For example, if a business traveller has had an issue with a hotel, the corporate programme can log it and share the details with the events team. That will not happen if working with two different agencies; the feedback on suppliers won’t be centralised.

Does it also mean a better return on investment (ROI) for business travel and meetings and events?

You’ll find ROI in multiple places. Naturally, it’s in the financial spend. But the other ROI is around happiness. Your people will feel safer when they’re travelling, reporting on ESG goals is simpler, there’s one contract and one contact who gets to know and understand your business, its culture and objectives.

Do you see more of an appetite for combining the spend?

Yes; everyone is so busy and under a lot of pressure. So being able to partner and collaborate with one agency means that agency gets to know a business really well and establish trust. An organisation might start with its travel management company for business travel then naturally partner with them for meetings and events because of all the above benefits.

There isn’t a huge number of TMCs that also have a full-service meetings and events division so clients may have had to go elsewhere for event management. Then, even within the meetings and events space it can be fragmented. Some suppliers just focus on venue finding, others focus on event technology, for example.

At Reed & Mackay, we have strong, experienced business travel and meetings and events arms. Our vision is to provide every aspect an organisation is looking for in this space, meaning we can get the best out of travel budgets, saving clients money and time, while upgrading traveller wellbeing and risk mitigation.

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