How Strategic Meetings Management Can Benefit The Business Travel Industry

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Photo: Flickr Banalities

Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) has gained a lot of support within the corporate organizational world over the past several years as an important strategy process.Implemented in order to maximise meeting productivity while minimising costs, it is meant to ensure that every corporate meeting, with all the related hospitality and airfare costs, leads to the greatest possible benefit for the companies involved.

SMM, therefore, dovetails importantly with the business travel and hospitality industry. With more and more companies utilising SMM as a primary ingredient in their travel plans, SMM-related travellers are becoming an important niche within this industry.

Professionals providing these services would do well to learn about the underlying requirements, implications and characteristics of travellers with a SMM mindset in order to maximise profits from this niche.

Business travellers following the implications of SMM are generally characterised by a strictly budget-based mindset, yet they also utilise elements of logistics with regards to what works best for a given meeting. More to the point, they determine what sorts of things have led to improved returns on investment for business meetings in the past.

What’s Happening Now
More importantly for hospitality businesses, however, there have been recent upticks in the demand for meeting services. A recent report from meetings consultants Maxvantage showed that nearly 60% of respondents to a Travel Buyers Survey felt that the meetings industry was stable and improving. This is important, given that the meetings industry in 2008, following the stock market crash and subsequent recession, would best be described as anemic. Average hotel rates dropped nearly 40% from a high of $226 in May of 2008 to a low of $134 in September of 2009.

Maxvantage Senior VP Steve O’Malley writes that “indicators point to a move back toward a sellers’ market.” Hotel rates underwent a severe drop between 2008 and 2009, indicating a relative lack of corporate meetings. In 2009 and 2010, however, hotel rates levelled off. ┬áBusiness hospitality and travel companies will be successful going forward partly as much as they study Strategic Meetings Management with regards to what corporate executives will be looking for.

For instance, O’Malley writes that some of the important elements of meetings management include “all parts of the meeting equation.” Some of these are “participant count increases” and “room and food and beverage rates,” as well as “firmer terms and conditions.” Because it is now a seller’s market, it is the seller’s responsibility to make sure that higher rates lead to higher ROI for SMM-minded corporate travellers.

Going Forward
Data shows that strategic meetings management, aside from benefiting the balance sheets of corporations worldwide, is also providing a much-needed boost to the travel and hospitality sectors. Now that the global recession seems to be subsiding, corporate executives are travelling again.

However, thrift and logic are the name of the game as executives are still wary of market volatility. By improving the elements that SMM finds important, certain hotels, airlines and restaurants may find themselves head and shoulders above the rest.

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