past, we thought small meetings were low
value, low risk, so we only required registration for events of 20 [people] or more.
Now we require registration of anything
that might be a meeting and then [my team]
evaluates it … and routes it where it needs
to go. If it’s a big meeting, it might go to
a third-party supplier for sourcing. … If it
fits that small meeting requirement, then we
just pass it through so [the organizer] can
book the on-demand meeting space.
Q About that: You’ve put some tech- nology in place so planners can
book on-demand meeting space but then
hop over to the corporate online booking tool to book sleeping rooms. Tell me
Stapelmann: In New York and several major cities, we have on-demand solutions.
These are technologies that a personal assistant or admin or anyone in your organization can access and look at inventory
in corporate office buildings. The company that we work with owns the leases.
There’s no cancellation penalty. You pay
with a corporate card. You get accurate
reporting and metrics, and they negotiate.
So it allows the sourcing process to stay in
an admin’s hands but we put compliance
around it because we want it to be easy
to book, easy to pay, easy to report. Then,
the sleeping rooms [which would be contracted alongside a hotel meeting space in
a more traditional process] just naturally
moved into the online booking tool. That’s
the part that we’re looking at right now.
We want to see which technologies really
fit because some of these technologies will
feed directly into Concur. We want to look
at something easy that integrates into Concur for booking the sleeping rooms.
QBen piloted in Germany, but it sounds like you are launching globally. Are
you looking at a particular type of meeting or group of meetings that offers a
Stapelmann: Estee Lauder and other consumer products companies like ours do [a
significant number of] training meetings.
It’s very brand specific right now and we
have 45 brands, but operationally, it’s sort
of the same thing: It’s a meeting room and a
couple of sleeping rooms. We’re … looking
at how we could create a center of excellence for these very specific types of meetings and whether they could, as a group, be
centralized and outsourced through a third
party to manage everything with a series
contract with hotels and including payment. The internal staff could then focus
Q But it also sounds like you are cast- ing a wide net in terms of registering
anything that “might-be” meetings. How
are you driving organizers to register those
Stapelmann: We have American Express
Corporate Meeting card as the form of payment, and organizers need a meeting ID to
expense their meeting card. So when they
go to the reconciliation tool, that’s a required field. If they haven’t registered their
event, they won’t be able to reconcile the
charges and that will delay payment. We
also added the meeting ID to the corporate
expense tool because some charges aren’t
on the meeting card but we want to pull
the total cost of the meeting to that particular event.
Q How about compliance for Parexel’s mall meetings, Ben? How are you
Park: We have our policy that meetings above the value of $25,000 must go
through a sourcing process. But honestly,
our strategy is that our policy stays in the
background and ideally, we create a system
where people like to use it and don’t realize that they are compliant with the policy.
If we’re adding value, we don’t need to tell
them the policy and don’t need to flag vio-lators. ... If we’re sending out the emails all
the time, “Hey, this is the policy, you need
to be compliant,” then we haven’t done our
Q Has any of this changed how you fore- see negotiating rates for your transient
travel program or how you incorporate
more meetings properties into your transient program?
Park: As we get more data, we will see
which hotel meeting spaces are used most
often and then create preferred meeting locations. But there could be limits in terms
of using transient rates for meetings. I
think for up to 20 or 30 rooms you can
use your transient travel rate and you don’t
need to get a special meeting room rate.
We’re all trying with these small meetings
to basically push it to a preferred hotel and
use our negotiated rate there, which is usually lower than a meeting room rate, and
then basically just negotiate on the conference room and other amenities. At least it
is for me.
Stapelmann: We’re optimizing our business travel program, so it might require
negotiating all our rates because we’re
pushing all of the sleeping rooms to the
online booking tool where they can access
Q What have you noticed, good and bad, about the new tech vendors in the
small meetings space? What should others
keep in mind?
Stapelmann: Nothing should require training. You should be able to do anything. You
should be able to have 6,000 people access
a technology without any training.
Park: The biggest challenge we face is that
none of these companies, to my knowledge,
are really global, which doesn’t [have to]
mean that they’re in all countries globally.
But none of them can cover 70 percent. To
get there, you would have to contact like,
three, four, five companies, and that’s too
hard to manage.
Stapelmann: We’re seeing a lot of technologies, and we’ve looked at some and
thought, “Oh, these are good!” and then
something else just popped up that’s better. The reason I’m not quite ready to
launch my portal is because I keep thinking there could be another technology
come up that’s really great. There are just
a lot of choices right now.
Meetings Mavens Talk Shop
ONLINE BOOKING TOOLS FOR SMALL MEETINGS
TRANSIENT RATES VS. MEETING RATES
DRIVING SMALL MEETINGS COMPLIANCE
“Our policy stays in the background and ideally, we create a system where people like to use [the small meetings online booking
tool] and don’t realize that they are compliant with the policy.”
—PAREXEL INTERNATIONAL’S BENJAMIN PARK