There has been a considerable increase in interactive technologies over the past few years.
While there have long been planner tools, registration platforms and venue finders, a South African firm, MiceMaster, has developed a homegrown Online Booking Tool (OBT) for our meetings and events industry.
South African corporates are now taking a far closer look at cost-containment and policy compliance, post-pandemic, than ever before. MICE budgets will be cut this year, so maximising budgets and creating a sound policy may well be priorities.
Admittedly, the MICE industry in the past has been synonymous with holding lavish events and being rather excessive at times. Here in 2022, following recession and retrenchments, nobody wants to see social media photos of management ‘living the dream’ on a Waterfront catamaran!
The following are the most common challenges travel, procurement and finance managers are facing when managing meetings and events in South Africa:
- Identifying cost-saving opportunities
- Bringing transparency to supplier rates and services
- Implementing procurement strategy, i.e. preferred partners
- Driving policy and monitoring compliance
- Centralising data and documentation
- Reducing admin overload
- Ensuring best practice in containing COVID-19
- Booking directly with the service provider
- Tracking pre- and post-event spend
- Controlling multiple payment methodologies
Why does a MICE OBT make sense?
A high percentage of companies are using OBTs to manage their 'traditional travel', thus an OBT to overcome some or all of the issues cited above may be worth a look. We know that a travel manager's role is becoming far more strategic. There has been a considerable rise in the demand for tech, at almost 300% (https://skift.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/ACTE-OBT-Whitepaper-04Jun19-1.pdf).
This increase means people need help to overcome time-consuming, manual and administratively heavy tasks. 99% of travel managers (https://discover.egencia.com/c/evolving-role-of-travel-manager-guide-en?x=OF9hBn) during the pandemic said their biggest challenge was now re-addressing policy, and duty-of-care has naturally become a challenge. So how will they manage all these extra responsibilities and new tasks allocated to them?
PCOs and TMCs still have value
We have taken the best-of-breed methodologies for OBTs and morphed them into the MICE sector. Policy, monitoring and compliance have become automated using rules-based logic, formatted briefs and quotes have long been a cry-out from PCOs, TMCs and suppliers alike when it comes to RFPs.
While booking directly with a hotel or venue may present some savings, professional event planners will still play a significant role for more complex events. PCOs are integrated into the system just like any other MICE supplier. The OBT has an integrated COVID module to help planners hold safer events.
Suppliers complain about becoming 'quote factories' to make up the designated number of quotes corporates require. Corporates battle to consolidate the data and ultimately struggle to report upon total MICE expenditure.
As the adoption of technology gathers pace, the OBT may now play a central role in the post-pandemic meetings and events sector.