ITM – what is it and why should it be on your radar?

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By: George Odom
Vice President and Principal, Integrated Travel & Meetings

At recent conferences, in conversations with your TMC, or in industry news, you may have heard the term ITM used more often. ITM stands for integrated travel and meetings and it’s an approach that will evolve the way your business handles its meeting practice. It’s the next level of your corporate travel and strategic meeting management program (SMMP) combining transient and meetings components to yield powerful results. From leveraging spend with suppliers, mitigating risk, and increasing overall employee satisfaction, both spend and programs get managed smarter, better.

More spend on negotiation

According to estimates from BCD M&I, meetings spend accounts for 30% of the average company’s overall travel and entertainment costs. Companies are often surprised to find they’ve been using the same supplier for transient and meetings travel since negotiations tend to take place in silos. So, combining travel and meetings spend can give you substantially more buying and negotiation power with your suppliers.

Better risk management

Our clients, and those of BCD M&I, increasingly cite risk management as important an integration driver as supplier leverage.

Over the past decade, companies have increased their focus on transient traveler’s safety and security. Through their travel management company (TMC), they often focus on providing emergency assistance and tracking travelers to ensure employees have essential destination and security information. Meetings-related duty of care, however, has been slow to follow the transient practices. If the TMC didn’t book travel to the meeting, the company often doesn’t know where its meeting attendees are when a crisis or emergency occurs, or even if they showed up for the meeting at all. Integration of the travel department’s knowledge is an ideal way to extend your security processes.

Better employee satisfaction

Travel and meetings integration also means bringing together booking processes and information like policies, city information and safety messages. Travelers and meeting users can find what they need in one place – whether that’s your intranet portal or online booking tool – and only needing a single process to follow.

Better spend and program management

A single process and a more unified supplier list will give you a much better picture of your total spend, and also helps you and your colleagues with budgeting.

Meetings can be a major compliance challenge. The online booking tool provider GetThere has estimated that 80% of meetings are coordinated outside company travel policies. Integrating the transient travel knowledge and compliance components – such as trip authorization and exception reporting – means meetings compliance should improve quickly.

Better use of resources

The people managing your travel program have the knowledge and expertise to support your meetings program, and vice versa. Few travel or meetings managers have as many people on their team as they would like. Integrating the two teams, and maximizing your technology expertise, can help you do more with the talent available to you.

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