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November 6, 2008

Douglas O’Neill:Times are changing




The managing director of meetings and business travel solutions specialist Inntel highlights more evidence of the growing importance of the meetings and conference industry, while stressing the key role booking agents can play in helping corporates and organisers plan their events – whatever their size.

A big well done to ITM for its proposed name change to Institute of Travel & Meetings from the Institute of Travel Management. 

Over the years, procurement departments have scrutinised flights, rail and accommodation spend and it has come as no real surprise that, considering the UK MICE industry is estimated at £10-12 billion annually, that MICE spend is now recognised by the ITM.

Coming together

ITM will be aware that it is almost impossible to commoditise this area of spend.  The pharmaceutical sector, particularly in the US, has been working at this for years and only where policy is strictly mandated has it seen some success.   There is however a great opportunity to bring meetings and events business together, the hotel spend alone will be significant and there is no reason this should not be included within your commercial agreement if placed through your hotel booking agent (HBA). 

Historically clients have been reluctant to place their larger event bookings via HBAs, as there hasn’t always been the expertise to deal with this business effectively. Inntel has broadened its offering to clients by expanding our Event Management team, ensuring we have the skills in-house to manage their complete calendar of events and thereby enabling this spend to be incorporated into their commercial programme.

Moving forward
ITM is an association renowned for bringing people together through the many forums it organises. I am confident that through debates and working parties, various solutions and ideas will be found to move this area forward.

Our own experience has shown that buyers are often receptive to guidance and information on how to review this area, especially when it comes to ideas on how to consolidate and develop a conference and meetings preferred programme.
 
The times maybe a changing, but one thing is for sure, by using a specialist conference and events agent, clients will make substantial savings on their annual MICE spend. 

Show me a company that doesn't need that right now!

Douglas O’Neill is managing director of meetings and business travel solutions specialist Inntel.


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