November 15, 2019

by Henrietta Balint, Senior Director, Global Meetings & Events, Radius Travel

Planning a meeting or event involves thinking about technology, processes and detail that don’t feature in a managed travel program. Technology and policy encircle this meetings and events lifecycle, as demonstrated in the SMMP wheel developed by the GBTA Meetings Committee.

Using technology to automate some of these processes is an efficient way of managing all the different aspects of an event, and frees up time and resources to focus on the finer details that make your meetings and events special. Most importantly, it is important that given the myriad of technology solutions out there, the technology you choose aligns with your objectives and where multiple technologies are used they are connected in a cohesive way to deliver the right output.

A new GBTA Meetings Management Toolkit says the entire event planning process can include a level of automation, from registration to post-event. Your technology stack should address the needs of attendees, and consider what is needed for various internal departments, polices and nuances.

When looking into each of these tools, the authors of the toolkit suggest finding out the answers to these questions within your organization:

  • Do capabilities of the tool match specific needs of your organization?
  • Is data processing secured and compliant to legislations such as GDPR?
  • How much training and support is provided to the meeting planners during and post implementation?
  • Does the provider support all geographical locations where your organization has presence, including communication in all required languages?
GBTA Meetings Committee SMMP Wheel
Source: GBTA Meetings Committee

So let’s get to it. Here’s 10 tools to consider

  1. Meetings Management Tool – If you are investing in your meetings and events program, an ‘all in one’ portal like Cvent, Aventri or EventsAIR is the first logical step. These tools have pre-, during and post-event features to support the entire planning process.
  2. Data and Reporting – Knowing your numbers is essential for budgeting, internal buy-in and traveler safety as well as being able to articulate value and draw actionable insights.
  3. Payment – Virtual cards available through companies like AirPlus speed up payment processing in a secure way, driving compliance, and link each line item to each specific event.
  4. Attendee Management / Online Registration – can be part of a meetings management tool, but this is key to gather and report key attendee information in a seamless and custom way, to drive engagement and meet event objectives.
  5. Mobile App – These often replace a paper show guide, giving attendees information such as the agenda, dinner plans, attendee list, floor plan and more. It drives engagement and social interaction when used effectively
  6. Smart Badges – Solutions like Klik enable planners to get more insight into what conference sessions are popular, or offer a smarter networking experience beyond swapping business cards.
  7. VAT Reclaim – Automating this process means you can claim what is rightfully yours, without having to go through the paperwork yourself.
  8. Group Travel Planning – Instead of plucking a destination out of nowhere, tools like TroopTravel assess where attendees are based to discover a location that works our best for money, time and sustainability.
  9. Surveys – Feedback and data fuels further event planning by indicating what worked, what didn’t and what can be improved on as well as provide tangible data on event success
  10. Visas – Requirements vary by location and where the traveler is coming to and from; leave it to an expert like CIBT with specialized insight and alerts.

Henrietta Balint
Senior Director, Global Meetings & Events, Radius Travel

Heni has a wealth of experience in both M&E and transient travel, having spent more than 20 years in commercial travel management company roles covering both sectors. A native Australian, Heni has lived and worked in Europe, Asia Pacific, and North America, and currently resides in the U.S.