American Express Meetings & Incentives last month introduced a new model for comprehensive meetings expense management that it will use to guide the meetings management of new and existing corporate clients.
The model is represented by a circular diagram, with the goals of savings, satisfaction and return on investment at its center. Around the circumference are specific procurement, process and attendee and planner behavior actions that include data consolidation, policy construction, developing preferred suppliers and leveraging technology—all of which are practices already recommended by Amex M&I and its competitors. The difference now, said vice president Jay Roseman, is the model's ability to represent the ways particular meetings management actions can lead a path to specific corporate goals.
"For many years, we have tried to articulate the rationale for consolidation and for having companies strategically put policies and processes behind this area of business," Roseman said. "The reasoning and best practices around this have finally come to fruition. It articulates what we have been trying to show for the past few years."
Adopting some of the processes and philosophies of its corporate parent's travel and expense management offerings, Amex executives in early June introduced the model at a client forum. That introduction comes at a time when evidence suggests corporations are interested in some meetings management and consolidation practices, including developing specific meeting policies (Meetings Today, June 9)
and leveraging technology to consolidate meeting expenditure data (see story).
Rare is the company that concurrently and successfully has implemented each facet of meetings management represented on the model, particularly at large companies. Roseman said that's not the point. "This is not designed to be overwhelming," he said. "It's designed to be a road map that needs to be attacked in pieces. Everyone can identify with it in at least one way, while others identify in a different way."
With its emphasis on such areas as policy, preferred suppliers, benchmarking and consolidation, the model clearly aims to appeal to senior financial and procurement executives, in line with current trends of the influence of those departments in travel and meetings management (BTN, May 14).
Yet, Roseman said, the model also can be used to justify internal changes to individual meeting planners. "The relevance for the individual planner is so they can see the trends of the meeting space aligning with the travel space more clearly," he said. "They can see the changes in the travel industry and see the potential parallels in the meeting industry. It gives a rationale for the questions they will be asked: how many meetings they plan, how much money is spent on their meetings, what suppliers they use and so on. This is not really about who actually plans the meetings. It's about how to maximize meeting expenditures and investment and how meetings get planned, not who plans them."
The development of the model is the second significant meetings-related move by American Express in recent months. The company in March combined resources from its meetings and incentives division and interactive travel group to form its Interactive Meeting Solutions group, a team dedicated to offer assistance to clients choosing and implementing meetings technology (Meetings Today, March 24).