Virtually Managing Your Company’s Meeting And Events Spend

Planning any corporate event or meeting is expensive. Whether online or offline, the biggest priority is always to drive down the cost of events and improve the visibility of meetings management.

Today, virtual tools are changing the way companies manage meetings and events as employees harness video-conferencing and web-based meetings. While digital platforms are less costly than funding face-to-face meetings, companies still need to consider how they manage their spend.

I. Virtual Is the New Reality

Frost & Sullivan's 2011 report, Leveraging the Power of Video Conferencing for Business, found almost a quarter of respondents use video conferencing every day, and 45% rate it as "very important" to their organisation.

Globalisation has also led to a rise in the number of employees working remotely. An increasingly mobile workforce means it can be hard to bring together employees in one single place – for meetings, client calls or project planning.

Teleconferencing and videoconferencing is a real-time tool that allows business decision-makers to bring together employees at multiple locations, building a room full of experts who can help drive more efficient and critical decision making at a lower cost.

Frost & Sullivan's Asia Pacific Video Conferencing Infrastructure Market report 2012 claims a push to limit budgets will see wider adoption of virtual conference technology. The research identified Australia, India and South Korea as video conferencing infrastructure high-growth regions. In Asia Pacific, the market registered a record growth of 33.3% in 2011, representing a total market value of USD 780 million.

But there is more to virtual meetings than audio and video-conferencing. Social media and instant messaging are emerging as 'side channels' through which users can converse with each other. The most forward-thinking companies are using these as opportunities to engage in pre and post-meeting discussion.

According to Intranet Focus' Managing virtual teams 2012 research paper, social media can be very effective in building team meeting 'hubs'.

"Not only can meeting information and documents be stored and accessed but team members can contribute profiles of their expertise and experience, and perhaps a video guide to their office and the areas that they will use for virtual team meetings."

II. One Pin and You're In

The 2009 Business Meetings: The Case for Face-to-Face study by Forbes found 59% of executives said their use of technology-driven meetings had increased during the recession.

Teleconferencing enables users to 'phone in' from any location, using a simple PIN, instantly connecting with colleagues and clients all over the world.

This option is becoming increasingly complementary to companies who are looking to further reduce costs and adopting the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend. Why tie an employee to a desk phone? Let them use their own and connect from wherever they are.

III. Collaborate With Less Back and Forth

Planning a big meeting involves lots of initial preparation – reports, presentations, artwork, process flows – which can lead to lengthy email chains, chasing individuals for feedback and even unnecessary pre-meeting meetings.

In short, these are valuable resources and time that could be better spent elsewhere.

Task management tools can help teams work more efficiently. Consolidated management platforms bring together all of the organiser’s tasks so they are all accessible from one interface that multiple users can access and edit.

Such tools allow users to share multiple projects, tasks, notes and files and then track progress and time to completion, while sending alerts and generating reports.

IV. Seeing More Clearly

Of course, traditional meetings formats are still part and parcel of meetings and events, and these expenses (such as flights, hotels, venue bookings, catering and internet connections) can all be charged to a specialized corporate meeting card. These corporate meeting cards can also be used for virtual meeting expenses as well, enabling complete visibility of meeting spend data to use for analysis and cost management.

Using a corporate meeting card streamlines all the processes associated with organising online and offline events or meetings, such as manually tracking expenses in a spreadsheet and processing employee expense reimbursements – freeing-up time and giving a clear picture of control on spend. With the right planning, all payments can be processed through just one meeting card, simplifying the process of planning and paying while gaining cost savings & productivity.