Intel Rolls Out Single Mtgs. Tech Platform
The global rollout of Intel Corp.'s corporate meetings management program, including the deployment of a single technology platform for worldwide data collection, has allowed the firm to develop international preferred supplier and group air management programs and begin to install a meeting card program.
Though the ability to drive cost savings is not the overriding goal of the Santa Clara, Calif.-based semiconductor manufacturer's meetings program, said senior sourcing specialist Michelle Harper, additional volume driven to preferred airline and hotel suppliers—as well as wider use of Intel's standard addendum to meeting contracts with hotels—should result in lower costs.
The global growth of the company's meeting strategy has not been prompted by policy. Like many technology companies, Intel does not mandate. Still, about 45 percent of Intel meetings worldwide are being registered with corporate planners, Harper said, to capture data.
Intel corporate policy prohibits the public disclosure of the identity of any preferred supplier.
After making significant strides in the domestic development of meetings management in 2001 and 2002 and a closer alignment between the company's meeting planning and purchasing functions, Intel awarded its meetings management business to a travel management company with the capability to expand the program's geographical reach. The firm has extensive meeting operations throughout Europe and Asia.
"We wanted to find a supplier that could support a strong, offshore meeting program that included hotel, air and logistical management, since we did not have that," Harper said. "That was always the vision, and it was a requirement for the supplier."
The global rollout was guided by the processes Harper's department formulated for the domestic meetings program. In the United States, she said, the purchasing staff took great pains to learn the concepts of event planning and the relationship between meetings and the achievement of business objectives.
"Meetings are complex and different from purchasing, and we spent two years understanding the needs of event owners," Harper said. "We had to identify the event owners through the tools we had, including a calendar for events, and then by building relationships."
Intel selected a meetings technology platform that in 2003 was expanded worldwide. "Planners use it to put in data, I use it as a reporting tool, and event owners use it for online attendee registration," Harper said.
The increased ability to collect data allowed Harper to analyze Intel's meeting and group air travel choices. "It's a large portion of our spending," she said. "It was managed, and we used preferred contracts, but when there are 50-plus attendees going to a meeting, there is a great opportunity for additional cost savings."
Additionally, Intel refined how it managed its hotel program in light of its meetings program. Not only will properties specifically selected to house Intel events in high-volume cities be included in the firm's overall preferred hotel program, Harper said, but negotiated domestic meeting rates are being applied to European events as well. A standard meeting contract addendum was developed that included cancellation and rebooking clauses. "Attaching our terms and conditions to all contracts was one of our first steps globally," Harper said.
Following the 2003 selection of the travel management company, Harper and company essentially needed to start from scratch. Few planners were in place outside of the United States and fewer strategic meetings management methods were being pursued.
"No synergies were being considered," Harper said. "It was about changing the mindset, while considering the different cultures, but encouraging them to look into it. It's very complex, and it's not easy."
Today, Intel has more than 30 meeting planners worldwide—up from fewer than 10 in 2000—with 15 outside of the United States, where the registration of meetings has increased by 150 percent in the past year, Harper said.
Harper hopes to capture about 65 percent of total Intel meetings in the near future. "That's tangible, and that would be a success," she said. "Three years ago, the whole goal might have been cost savings. But now, we want to ensure the processes work and that event organizers' business needs are met, because we don't want to make their lives harder. It's not just about savings, it's more complex than that and it's a mistake to focus only on that piece."
Intel's next move is to globally implement a corporate meeting card solution. That program has gone through two pilots in the United States, and will be introduced in Asia in the next few months. "There are a lot of different countries and accounts payable systems," she said. "After that, we will focus on Europe, and hopefully it will be implemented by the end of next year."