A view from David J. Reimer, Executive Vice President at American Express Global Business Travel (GBT)
When I speak to our global and national clients across our travel management and meetings and events businesses, conversations around managing these programs jointly have become a key topic among their senior leadership teams. This topic comes alongside other areas that are top of mind like sustainability, diversity, duty of care, and supplier partnerships.
Consolidating vendors and partnerships for maximum business gains is a standard business practice and I would bet the main area of focus for some procurement teams because of the clear benefits. Evidently, several others share my views. There’s been a steady increase recently in the number of large companies that have hired us to help them manage both travel and meetings and many companies that are in the proposal process have also expressed interest in this joint business model. It gives a company more clout in contract negotiations while it gives vendors more flexibility in how they can customize their solutions for a client. A company has more of an opportunity to get the most value for their money across different areas of their business. It can also save time and generate process efficiencies by managing fewer vendor or partner relationships. Thinking through what this means for our clients, we have begun to shine a light on the value of having one partner manage both travel and meetings programs. By addressing needs that span both areas in one place, you stand to gain certain advantages that you may not have considered.
Responsible Business Partner
One of the most important benefits, if not the most important, is having a partner that is dedicated to doing business responsibly. This may sound like an obvious trait that you would look for in any partnership and not so much a benefit of one partner managing both your travel and meetings programs. However, as we break down responsible business across travel and meetings, integrity and trust become important in terms of how they impact your programs.
Governance, Risk, and Compliance
Understanding the type of regulatory and security standards to which your partners abide by is extremely important for the integrity of your company’s data and information. As the most highly regulated travel management company (TMC), GBT’s compliance and risk program is unmatched in the industry and is consistent across the globe. This provides more confidence for our clients across both meetings and travel. It also allows for a single governance process over both programs for better operational efficiency, as well as more data transparency to drive better program outcomes.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I)
To quote GBT’s CEO Paul Abbott, “Creating an environment and a culture where everyone feels like they belong no matter who they are or where they are from is central to our values.” Across all of GBT, we are committed to achieving a culture that is inclusive, equitable, and allows everyone to feel like they can be their true authentic selves. Employing people in different countries with various backgrounds, cultures, opinions, and talents helps us foster a diverse workplace on a global scale. This diverse workforce helps us create and innovate so that we can deliver on our commitments for our clients whether they’re in Singapore, Germany, or New York. These ideals also extend beyond our employee base to the global suppliers we work with through our Supplier Diversity Program.
Environment and Sustainability
Being able to align goals across travel and meetings when it comes to sustainability and green initiatives is something our clients are seeing a lot of value in today. GBT has built environmental goals and solutions within a marketplace for green travel by working with suppliers, reducing operational emissions with renewable energy, and helping drive aviation towards net-zero carbon. Through these solutions, we help create sustainable travel and meetings programs and policies for our clients.
Duty of Care
Duty of care fulfillment has been a priority of ours and our clients for years. However, the past couple of years has underscored its importance significantly. As in-person meetings and events begin to take place again and business travel increases, there are more factors that need to be considered when planning, booking, traveling, and meeting. Navigating the fast-changing rules and regulations by destination can be a daunting task but having one experienced partner with the know-how, technology, and communication tools to guide you can help make this process easier and more centralized.
Program Optimization: Spend Management, Visibility, Efficiency
In the end, it all comes down to savings, whether that be time, money, or effort. Currently, clients that manage both their meetings and events programs and their travel management programs with GBT, experience an average incremental monetary savings of anywhere between 9% and 17%.1 There are also efficiency gains to be seen. Under one partner, clients are able to streamline their supplier contracts and manage them for both programs together. This saves time for legal teams and minimizes some of the back-and-forth that goes into contract negotiations. Communication becomes easier across the programs since everything is operating under the same teams and information can be shared openly. This also leads to more visibility into your program’s data and performance. Consolidated reporting and access to benchmarking can show how your programs are performing and also provide insight into improvement opportunities.
While it’s evident that a single travel and meetings management approach can yield better outcomes, it’s also quite interesting to note the positive implications for other areas of your business, such as duty of care, risk and compliance, sustainability, and DE&I. And though we’ve touched on the value of having one partner for both travel and meetings, the reality is, there are far more benefits to discover for yourself. At GBT, we respect the specialized needs of our clients. That’s why we work with you to implement the program that’s most suitable to your goals, brand, and budget.
To learn more about the benefits of bringing your managed travel and meetings and events programs together, contact your GBT account manager or fill out our form and we’ll contact you.
1 Data analysis of American Express Global Business Travel and American Express Meetings & Events prospective joint clients, 2020. Results vary based on individual client programs.