The Business Travel Magazine Dec/Jan 2019/20

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ARRIVALS

SPEAKING OUT

Companies take for granted that

online tools will give them the

best rates for business travel, but

when it comes to meetings and events

there seems to be a different mindset.

Expert meetings management ensures your

business squeezes the very best value from

every pound you spend. Take a strategic

approach to meetings and you can keep your

business objectives front of mind throughout,

maximising return on investment with great

outcomes and a great delegate experience.

PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS

THE END OF HIDDEN

MEETING COSTS

Seeing into the future leads to smarter buying

decisions. Douglas O’Neill of Inntel explains

The emerging science of predictive

analytics offers impressive benefits in this

regard, using artificial intelligence (AI) and

machine learning to predict the future. By

studying past data you can detect meaningful

patterns that suggest what is likely to happen,

then take different actions as a result.

Predictive analytics can help you plan better

meetings and events, save money and control

costs. It’s powerful because it works at a scale

and depth of detail that is impossible for

human analysts.

Detecting trends in behaviours leads to

smarter buying decisions. Using AI you can

learn the average spend per delegate

within an industry sector or large

organisation, benchmark your

own spend and compare

venues. You can evaluate

total cost per delegate –

including travel, food,

credit card expenses,

time out of office etc.

Savings of up to 20%

could be made if corporates can obtain a full

360-degree picture of costs, and this precision

also helps businesses with budget planning.

Predictive analytics can calculate demand

for an event too. Let’s say 100 delegates are

invited to a summit and past data shows only

22% will RSVP within a month but 58% more

will finally accept (many after the booking

deadline). Knowing that one-month figure

allows you to predict how many will actually

attend so you can book the right venue at the

right cost well ahead.

You can also calculate the most costeffective

and time-efficient location and venue

for your company to hold a meeting, for

example when delegates are coming from

three specified countries. Predictive analytics

even allows the business to decide to send

fewer people to a conference in Asia-Pacific,

for example, if airfares to the destination are

forecast to rise at that time of year.

AI can also rapidly analyse attendee expense

claims and individual behaviours to detect

anomalies. It can identify the 5% of delegates

making bogus claims without aggravating

the 70% who never cheat or the 25% who

make the occasional mistake. What’s more,

intelligent analysis can highlight how,

although a meeting attendee spent an

unauthorised £10 on an in-room movie,

they skipped a £30 dinner as a result.

The challenge is how to make the most of a

mountain of unstructured data housed with

multiple online and offline providers. This is

where the expertise of a meetings and

events management company is invaluable.

DOUGLAS O’NEILL

Douglas O'Neill is CEO and

owner of Inntel, the meetings

and travel management

company. He is Chair of the

GBTA Europe Meetings

Committee and is a member

of several other industry and

non-industry associations.

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

17

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