Groupize Blog

Pent-Up Demand Could Mean More Meetings and Events in 2021 as Corporations Hit Reset

Dec 9, 2020 8:36:37 AM / by Madison Harris posted in Covid19, Global Meetings, hybrid meetings, 2021, Modern Meetings, Management, Meeting Planner


As 2020 comes to a close, we are left with no shortage of questions when considering what the future holds in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The specific details related to timelines, long-term impact, and industry trajectories, in many cases, remain relatively unclear. However, one thing is sure: the events and meeting landscape is forever changed, but not forgotten. While this has been a notably difficult year for everyone that relies on in-person, high-traffic experiences, the importance of in-person gatherings in a corporate setting is well understood across businesses that are now making safety-conscious plans for 2021 events and business travel. The demand for events and meetings has not dissipated; their proposed design has simply received a makeover.

In the coming months, companies must consider their meetings and travel programs under a new, more proactive lens while relying on
travel and meetings management technology that can help to simplify and ameliorate the event planning process.

A Hybrid Experience

A recent survey revealed that 63% of planners predict that their companies or clients will host in-person meetings and incentives sometime in the first half of 2021, provided that destinations allow gatherings and health protocols are in place. The design of events will focus on small gatherings at local and regional destinations in favor of large meetings, with attendee and staff safety considerations at the forefront of the planning and implementation process.

The rise of hybrid events that welcome attendees in-person and online presents new engagement opportunities across meetings and events. With the right approach and technology in place, companies now have a chance to expand the reach and impact of their events while connecting with new audiences. With this in mind, convention centers such as Houston's
George R. Brown Convention Center have already begun adding hybrid-meetings studios to their venues.

A Closer Look at the New Normal

In the American Express Meetings and Events 2021 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, respondents made a note of the following considerations when deciding to hold an in-person event:

- Confidence in attendee health and safety components (63%)
- Flexible cancellation and attrition terms (59%)
- The capacity to accommodate social distancing (77%)
- Disinfection protocols (52%)

As attendee health and safety concerns and the demand for social distancing remain paramount, venue spaces must offer enhanced transparency and personalization when working with planners on future events. For corporations, a venue's COVID-19 risk-mitigation policy should guide the vetting process for future events. Corporations will require enhanced visibility and streamlined workflows throughout the process.

Technology to the Rescue

There is now a global push from organizations of all sizes for a structured meeting management program to be in place
- taking a closer look at the policies and procedures they have in place. Technology is the key to helping companies implement a program and initiate a level of compliance, management, and oversight that may have been on the back burner before the pandemic.

Even though COVID-19 cases are once again starting to rise in the U.S. and abroad, airline and hotel industry executives are saying that seven months of pent-up consumer demand bodes well for the future of the struggling travel business. To rebound and recover safely, companies will have to adhere to new standards in regards to formalized meeting policies, best practices, and cohesive event planning strategy empowered by travel and meeting management technology. What begins as a hybrid of virtual and small in-person events at select, non-traditional venue spaces will gain momentum. Ultimately, the pandemic will likely mean an influx of meetings and events as corporations hit reset in 2021 and strive to make up for lost time and lost opportunities.

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Post-COVID Meeting Management Transformation: The Biggest Trend for 2021 is Self-Service

Dec 2, 2020 9:00:00 AM / by Madison Harris posted in Covid19, 2021, Meetings and Events, Management, Face to Face


Necessity has always been the mother of invention, and technology has always been at the helm of solving problems and improving our daily lives. Over the years, we've seen Netflix replace Blockbuster Video, Uber disrupt traditional taxi services, and Amazon online shopping has completed transformed the retail space. And yet, before the COVID-19 pandemic, certain industries remained stuck in the past, defined by technology which no longer served them. Specifically, the meetings and events industry that was in dire need of an update would help streamline and simplify planning corporate events and meetings.

Now, as the industry braces for recovery in the coming months, we realize that the path forward demands the long-awaited functionality of self-service meeting management technology.

The Old World of Meeting Management

Traditionally, larger corporations comprised entire teams dedicated to planning travel and venue accommodations for meetings and events. Without the corporate infrastructure to dedicate a whole team to such efforts, smaller companies often relied on a manager who helped oversee and manage upcoming events and travel while working closely with travel agencies specializing in business travel. With expensive and over-engineered technology systems designed for meeting management, the process of planning and facilitating events and meetings (regardless of scale) was often complicated and rife with delays and managerial headaches. Without the appropriate manpower of internal teams or external support from travel agencies, the administrative and logistical demand associated with event planning would make the process, simply put, extremely difficult.

Moreover, events and meetings can occur in any department. Those companies which have never allocated an internal role for event planning often found themselves in a predicament. If an HR manager had to plan a training event somewhere but didn't have the tools or training required to facilitate such a process seamlessly, what did that look like? Similarly, if a Sales Manager has to plan a sales meeting, how can they approach the planning process in an informed and efficient manner (especially in a post-pandemic world) without having any appropriate experience?

The New Era of Meeting Management

In a post-pandemic world, the internal infrastructure of corporations across industries has abruptly changed. Most companies are now relying on fewer resources and an increasingly limited budget. With fewer people in the office and a growing virtual workforce, most businesses simply don't have the means to support teams dedicated to corporate meetings and events. Those administrative efforts, most likely, have been transferred to someone else who, up until now, was entirely unfamiliar with the events and meetings landscape. As these individuals most likely lack dedicated planners' expertise, they don't require the complex tools or resources leveraged by professional planners. Instead, they need user-friendly, intuitive online tools that simplify the process of venue shopping, requesting proposals, booking venues, and booking travel.

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Why Professionals Choose Groupize for their Meetings Program

Oct 15, 2020 2:23:58 PM / by Madison Harris posted in Global Meetings, Meetings and Events, Management, Professional, Technology


Why Professionals say Groupize is the Meetings, Travel, & Risk Management Solution of Choice for your Program.

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Leveraging Virtual Events & Meetings Technologies for Strategic Meeting Management

Oct 7, 2020 8:00:00 AM / by Madison Harris posted in virtual meetings, Management, optimization, Technology


Virtual meetings and events, a critical component to a Strategic Meetings Management strategy and program, provide an organization with expanded options to communicate and broaden a meeting planner’s toolbox of viable delivery solutions. By definition, a virtual meeting provides for live or archived communications, education, and gatherings among small to large, local to global attendees connected through digital technology(s) to accomplish a common goal. There are no limitations on virtual meeting types; in fact, even an incentive meeting may include a virtual gathering leading up to an in-person meeting.

The benefits of using virtual technologies for meetings include scalability, work/life balance, access to experts, replay opportunities, immediacy and reach to broad audiences, multilingual capabilities, carbon emission reduction and cost avoidance, and return on engagement and investment metrics.

Content engagement is best designed by either an expert in adult learning, e.g. an instructional designer, or a virtual meeting storyboard expert who can create the best experience for the participants. Hybrid meeting success is often measured by keeping attendees engaged by the use of an emcee so that the remote attendees have the same experience as the in-person attendees. For hybrid or all-virtual meetings, this can be accomplished by the use of:

• Highly engaging, great speakers that vary intonation
• Question and answers via surveys or polling
• Videos that pertain to the content of the meeting
• Application sharing and demos of product or service
• Virtual break-out rooms that reconvene with each team sharing the outcome of the break-out
• Whiteboard exercises and annotations among participants
• Gamification, including participant voting for escalating topics during meetings

As well, expected virtual meeting outcomes and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to maximize efficiency and value include:

• Increased number of touchpoints with participants
• Knowledge improvement
• Level of success of meetings
• Cost avoidance and carbon emissions reductions

Three tiers of virtual meetings, categorized by complexity, return on investment and engagement, content storyboarding, and support required, offer a framework for designing the right delivery configurations, preferred suppliers, and a rate card “buffet” for stakeholders to choose from based on their requirements and budget. Each tier may include multiple live, on-demand, and simulcast configuration options that can all be priced in-advance with a consistent pricing methodology and rates for the duration of a supplier’s contract, i.e., 3 years, globally, regionally, or locally. As such, the service fits into the Strategic Meetings Management solution as another option for planners to offer their meeting stakeholders and can be sourced every three years through Procurement.

Virtual meetings have emerged into our day-to-day business and personal routines. Use the right supplier, in the right virtual meeting tier, for the right use case, at the right price in your Strategic Meetings Management program, and your organization will experience a highly valued delivery solution that complements the in-person meetings.

To learn more about the new normal and how to prepare for the changes in travel, meetings, and events worldwide, download the complimentary titled, Prepare for a Changed World, which delivers timely peer to peer advice from leading travel managers, meeting planners, procurement, TMCs, and industry partners.

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Times Have Changed So Your Meetings Technology Must Change With It

Oct 6, 2020 9:55:55 AM / by Madison Harris posted in Modern Meetings, Management, Meeting Planner, Technology


While legacy event planning solutions have been consolidating, new players are emerging that allow for new functionality and allow for more cost-effective licenses. If you are looking for event technology, do your homework. There are many options, and it can be overwhelming. Talk to you TMC (travel management company), MMC (meeting management company), or industry colleagues for advice and assistance.

Ultimately, there is no one size fits all solution. The first thing to do is to identify the gap you are looking to fill and make a list of what’s important to you. Here are some things to consider: 

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What Role Should Your TMC and Third-Party Play in Meetings Management?

Sep 7, 2020 8:30:00 AM / by Madison Harris posted in Meetings and Events, Management, Third-Party, TMC


Most TMCs support hybrid models of self-service and full service. Find a partner that can give you the most bang for your buck while making you successful. Define your roles when it comes to strategy, implementation, additional services (such as room blocks, registration, air), negotiating, contract supervision, supplier optimization, reconciliation, and data. Utilizing a third party planning company gives an organization’s meeting planner time to handle the meeting content while outsourcing the tactical details of the meeting. These companies and individuals become a consultant or trusted advisor based on their experience and industry relationships. They work with a variety of organizations and gain insight into locations, vendors, experiences, and events. In addition, they develop best practices by working with other clients and can bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to a company’s event.

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The Power of Self-Service in the Next Normal for Meetings Management

Aug 27, 2020 1:44:06 PM / by Madison Harris posted in Meetings and Events, Management, self-service



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Need Better Meetings Management? Here’s How Industry Experts & Insiders are Making It Happen

Aug 24, 2020 3:30:28 PM / by Madison Harris posted in Meetings and Events, Modern Meetings, Management, Experts


Surely, we can all agree that company payment policy is a key component of your meetings and events program. The policy will provide a clear and documented outline of the guidelines concerning meeting expenses and what is required to get expenses paid. The policy will also inform associates about the consequences of failing to comply with the policy and local payment terms.

From the onset of the process design, involving the right stakeholders is crucial to its success. Partner with the business process owner to ensure the right control points are identified and integrated into the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). We recommend engaging with at least the following groups:

• Finance
• Meeting Management Team
• Procurement
• Third-party meetings agency
• Meetings management technology provider/IT
• Legal

Where a PO process is in place, ensure that all teams are clear on the workflow and tracking of the process. A similar process can be applied for other payment methods such as card products or inbuilt as part of a payment platform. If using a card method such as p-cards, meeting cards, or corporate T&E cards, a level of reasonable control should be built into the process, possibly scaled by payment value.

Ultimately, a technology solution will increase automation in the payment process. For example, if you have a technology platform in place, the meeting could be required to be registered, a meeting ID aligned to the request, and that ID must be issued before payments can move through for approval. This is a more advanced workflow, and with technology integrations, you can enable budget approval, card creation, assignment, and reconciliation as an integrated part of your meeting technology platform.

These are unprecedented times, and we can expect some sea-change impacts on business, behaviors, and expectations. Everyone will be required to respond and modify their business models for the new post-crisis ecosystem. How we plan, how we communicate and collaborate, and how we interact is all going to change. That being said, those who are quick to adjust will lead the way for the industry to follow. While so many may be taking things day-by-day, it’s critical to look to the future to determine the best course of action moving forward.

Now more than ever, corporations are looking for easier, more efficient, and cost-effective meetings management strategies to navigate through this period of uncertainty and into the future.

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Modern Meeting Management: Going Beyond a One-Size-Fits-All Approach

Aug 3, 2020 1:15:39 PM / by Madison Harris posted in Global Meetings, hybrid meetings, Modern Meetings, Management


In order to understand how industry experts will approach corporate meetings for the new world, we have to first identify the goals of a meeting management program. What should you care about? Well, each company is likely to have a different answer. Consider the following examples:
  • Visibility: Ability to “register all meetings” to a company calendar. How many meetings do we have? How much do we spend?
  • Spend Management: Budgets, approvals, invoices, payment method, reconciliation.
  • Duty of Care: Where are my travelers attending meetings?
  • Savings: You can save 10%-20% with a meetings management program.
  • Risk Mitigation: Who is signing hotel contracts?
  • Security: Are we using GDPR compliant tools? What about PII?
  • Brand Integrity: Do we put our best foot forward?
  • Productivity: How much time can we save?

Identifying Savings Opportunities 

It’s also important to identify savings opportunities and, moreover, what savings formula your procurement group has in place: Options may include:
  • Year-over-year savings (not apples-to-apples comparisons, but, how much does it matter to you or your organization).
  • Savings from budget (business units hold a budget for their events, so how much you helped them to under-run this budget).
  • Incremental savings (the differential between last year/last quarter and this quarter – could be savings or dissavings).
  • Competitive bid process & negotiations (savings could reflect the difference between the original quote and the final negotiated agreement)
As aforementioned, studies show that corporations can achieve an average of 10% - 20% savings when they implement best practices in sourcing, supplier optimization, processes, and policy compliance. Considering the costs associated with corporate meetings, this is incredibly valuable.

Companies should also consider BAR vs. negotiated transient rates (preferred hotel program) vs. group rates, as this represents a true market comparison. Further, we must take into account average attendee cost year over year (YOY). From a savings perspective, companies should consider multi-property or multi-year agreement savings, group air (ticketing fees & booking window savings), labor savings by moving to self-service, and potential technology savings by not having user fees, lower licensing cost, etc..

Modern Risk Mitigation Measures for Events

While many ‘security checklists’ exist online, not all security needs are universal. You know there are risks to bringing people together, so selecting a venue that has defined, existing protocols can reduce the time you spend on ensuring the health and safety of your attendees.

Going in, you should understand precisely what you are protecting beyond attendees – company secrets? Celebrity or political speakers? Executives? Innovation samples or exhibits? Party crashers? Prior to the meeting, companies should walk the venue with security to understand vulnerabilities and actively modify strategies such as:
  • Is surveillance active or passively reviewed?
  • Staff to entry point ratios? Fire exits and sprinklers?
  • First Aid and first responder access?
  • Was your list of contacts for emergencies distributed to the right people?
Adopting a proactive approach, any risky structures should be removed or blocked in lieu of the upcoming meeting/event and, in a post-pandemic world, it will become especially important for sanitation measures to be readily accessible to all. Before the day of the meeting arrives, you should be satisfied with the following:
  • The venue has adequate insurance
  • There is an Active Shooter response plan
  • The venue’s prior experience with your event profile especially if it is large, if media is not welcome, or if your featured speakers are controversial.
As always, communication is integral to success. Prior to their arrival, you should communicate clearly with all guests/attendees and clarify expectations so they know if bags will be inspected, metal detectors will be used, social distancing is encouraged, and if a ‘see something, say something’ campaign is appropriate.

When it Comes to Meetings, Visibility Matters

You might find yourself wondering, what exactly does ‘event visibility’ entail? To answer that, companies should consider the following:
  • Do you have visibility of 100% of your meetings?
  • When and where are they being held?
  • Who is attending your meetings, and where are they at all times?
  • Who has approved the meeting expense?
  • Was the contract reviewed before signing?
  • What is your risk if the meeting must be canceled or postponed?
  • Is your meeting data GDPR and PCI compliant?
Ultimately, full visibility means you have a complete picture of all your meetings globally; you can see where people are going, and if needed, where people have been.

Lessons Learned from the Pandemic

In the wake of the COVID-19, we all just gained an in-depth understanding of these challenges. Those companies which had the data were able to support their senior leadership with strategic decision-making as the crisis evolved. Because, as we know, data is key in a crisis. Those that didn’t have a meetings program enforced, however, had to scramble. In limited time frames and with limited information, they had to determine which employees were in regions that were exposed and then had to determine if there were any executed contracts that exposed the company to risk if they needed to cancel or postpone the meeting. Without easy access to the data around the meetings and contracts, companies were forced to endure a fire drill to get the data. Decisions were made ad-hoc as opposed to strategically due to the lack of data.

And it is not just about the contracts and knowing what the location of the meeting is. Companies need to be able to access all the attendee data easily; and yet, many of them rely exclusively on GDS data, which typically only includes flight data. The hotels’ bookings are typically offline in a room block, and not all travelers fly to events, so they will not be displayed in the GDS. Due to this, companies need to identify and approve the attendee registration solutions utilized in their companies, and these systems need to push data to the company’s traveler tracking solutions. As we already identified, these traveler tracking tools typically only pull transient travel data, and it needs to include your meeting data as well.

Simply stated, it is no longer acceptable to only manage large marketing and incentive events. Moving forward, companies need to seamlessly manage all groups that are greater than two people.

These are unprecedented times, and we can expect some sea-change impacts on business, behaviors, and expectations. Everyone will be required to respond and modify their business models for the new post-crisis ecosystem. How we plan, how we communicate and collaborate, and how we interact is all going to change. That being said, those who are quick to adjust will lead the way for the industry to follow. While so many may be taking things day-by-day, it’s critical to look to the future to determine the best course of action moving forward. 

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