CSFB Requires Planners To Book Internal Mtg. Space
A new policy mandating the use of internal meeting space, when available, for all applicable meetings and events has allowed New York-based Credit Suisse First Boston to hold nearly one-quarter of its global events at internal facilities, generating significant cost savings in the process.
The policy, introduced at the end of 2002, is an extension of CSFB's fully centralized and highly managed meetings program, which requires internal meeting sponsors to register all events that cost more than $5,000 and includes nonpayment as a consequence of noncompliance with pre-approval policies.
"This is a mandated policy instituted in order to control costs and take advantage of our own facilities when we can," said Mick Lee, managing director of the CSFB internal client services group.
In 2003, the company held 23 percent of its global events and conferences at in-house facilities in the United States and United Kingdom. The total expenditures on those in-house events—about $2.75 million—represents a cost avoidance of at least $2.5 million that would have been incurred had CSFB held the events offsite, Lee said.
CSFB's event registration and approval process is automated, which allowed the company quickly to add a procedure that includes the review of internal meeting space as part of that standard process.
"Our first step was to have senior management announce a policy to all employees that onsite facilities will be looked at first," Lee said. "When you call for a reception for 300, for example, the automatic expectation is that the first move will be to look internally."
CSFB has an extensive network of internal meeting space and corporate resources, including videoconferencing and media and dining services.
The space is also of requisite quality to host meetings involving CSFB clients, Lee said. "It took some time to change the perceptions of our meeting hosts that by utilizing our onsite space, we are not talking about cheese puffs and sodas in the basement. Our facilities are state of the art, and our onsite F&B staff are experienced professionals who are very well prepared to exceed the expectations of our clients."
To ensure service quality for those onsite meetings, Lee has developed stronger ties with CSFB's catering and facilities departments, both of which are partner departments of Lee's internal client services group. Those ties help to ensure all technological needs and network hookups are in place for onsite events, Lee said, and food and beverage service is akin to that at a luxury hotel. Lee noted that some menus have been standardized for onsite meeting use.
The new policy complements CSFB's existing meetings program, which places a very high emphasis on centralization and compliance. Proposed meetings of more than $5,000 in planned expenditures must be submitted through Lee's department into an automated pre-approval system.
The automated system submits the meeting proposal to two different senior executives for budgetary approval, but only after that approval is received can the meeting receive the event code number that is necessary for expenses to be reimbursed.
"This is not a bureaucratic system; it's fast and efficient," Lee said. "We have direct links with the accounts payable and expense departments. Bills cannot be processed without final approval and unless the event code is there. It is a very strong policy." The pre-approval system was adapted to consider automatically the availability of in-house meeting facilities when forwarding the meeting proposal for approval, Lee said.
CSFB does not have specific goals as to the number of offsite meetings to be moved in-house or levels of cost savings or avoidance, Lee said. Rather, the process itself is the goal—ensuring the highest possible use of in-house facilities.
"If our onsite facilities are unable to meet the needs of a particular event or conference," Lee said, "our meeting planning team sources external space through hoteliers utilizing the strong relationships we have developed with these venues over the years."