The Blurred Line Between Corporate Travel Manager and Planner

A shift towards bottom-line-oriented, frills-free events, or a natural evolution of the industry?

By Anicka Quin

Linda Warner’s job isn’t what it was two years ago. Warner, who manages Travel Services for the University of Alberta in Edmonton, isn’t just handling hotel contracts and developing relationships with preferred suppliers—she’s reaching out to travel and meeting planners across campus to convince them to work with her department first. “We try to give our planners access to the tools that are out there to plan their next meeting or event,” she says. “I do a professional development day every October for them, and this year the education session was, ‘what tourism offices can do for you.’ Our whole premise is to show affordable options and cost-saving opportunities.”

Warner’s shift in responsibilities reflects an ongoing trend identified in a joint report from the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) and the Conference Board of Canada. For the third year in a row, corporate travel managers (CTM) are exerting more influence over meetings and events. Does this growing trend mean a shift towards bottom-line-oriented, frills-free events, or is it the natural evolution of the industry?

The answer is somewhere between the two. While Warner notes that her meeting planners aren’t mandated to book with locations her department pre-approves, everyone has seen their budgets shrink. “We’ve had a lot of economy issues,” she explains, “and I think the focus is more on cost saving than we have seen in the last two to five years.”

Angie Pfeifer, CMM, assistant vice-president, corporate meetings, incentives and travel for the Investors Group in Winnipeg, notes that a healthy relationship can exist between CTMs and meeting organizers. “I think there’s a partnership that has to happen between corporate travel and meetings, and there are opportunities and synergies with supplier relationships and cost avoidance,” says Pfeifer. “But there’s a bigger piece of the puzzle—the business value of meetings—which has nothing to do with corporate travel.”

It’s important to deliver a conference on or under budget, she notes, but there’s more to it than that. “If meetings and events professionals are doing things properly from a business value perspective—measuring productivity, increasing market share, tracking the effectiveness of a new product launch—that’s not a corporate travel function at all. If you manage to increase market share or sales on a new product, or change behavior that helps an organization financially—that’s worth more than saving $5,000.” 

When in Doubt, Outsource
If meetings and events have fallen under your area of responsibility as a CTM, there’s an alternate, time-saving option: outsource the task. Third-party meeting planners will work with you to keep your meeting on task and on budget, says Michelle Grant, CTE, travel administration manager with Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers in Burnaby, B.C. “I met with several third-party planners before I chose one,” adds Grant, who has seen meetings and events fall under her portfolio, too.

other articles in this section

The Waiting Game

Q&A with Suzanne Neufang, Executive Director, GBTA

By the Numbers

Keeping Corporate Data Safe

Are Your Female Business Travellers Safe on the Road?

Flight Turbulence

What’s your Data Plan?

Get it in Writing

Follow the money

In Harm’s Way

It’s all in the timing

Covering Trouble in Paradise

Flight Plan

For Safe Keeping

Smooth Moves

On the Safe Side

At Your Bleisure

Cover me!

Uber. Airbnb. Lyft…

Q&A with Anthony Pollard

Data Dilemma

Getting on track

So Long, Swipecards

Take your Best Shot

Benefits of Integrating Mobile Payment Platforms

Trend Setter, Dorothy Dowling

Newest Cloud Technology

Is it Time to Dust Off your Corporate Travel Policy?

The Future Travel Credit Management Solution

Planes, trains and data plans

When employees fall ill on the road

Burnout Busters

The Rules of Compliance

Communal Spaces Boost Hotels' Comfort Factor

Making the most of travel and expense management systems

May the Best Vendor Win

Evaluating disaster recovery plans

On the Road Again

Hotels Taking Wellness to a Whole New Level

Corporate Travel Tracker

Controlling Corporate Travel Costs

The Anti-stress List

The Blurred Line Between Corporate Travel Manager and Planner

Big Flight Discounts for Small Businesses

Are Business Travellers Putting Corporate Data at Risk?

Timesaving Mobile App for Superior Car Service

Company Car or Driver-owned?

10 Healthy Travel Tips

Navigating Emerging Markets

Business Travel Etiquette

Rogue Travellers on Spending Sprees!

Business Travel and Health

Social Media and Travel Programs

Baggage Handler Confidential

Travel Expense Reporting

Buses Mean Business

Travel Budgets Analyzed

Q+A with Ron DiLeo

Progressive Extended-Stay Programs

Dynamic Hotel Pricing

The Perfect Travel Management Company

The Kindest Cuts

Green Businesses

Travel Policy Compliance

Car Sharing: The leaner, greener choice!

Expense Accountability

Hotel Program Success

Costly Corporate Credit Card Programs

Travel Less, Save More?

Dynamic Pricing

Travel Program Success

Meetings Abroad: Are you Prepared?

Maneuvering Through the RFP Process

Cross-Border Air Travel

Time for a Travel Policy

10 Ways to Avoid Business Travel Pitfalls

Bargaining Table Car Rental Tips for Corporate Planners

Creating Travel Policy Compliance

Sustainable Travel Tips

Crucial Travel Policy Changes to Save Time and Money

Tipping Guide for Business Travellers

Corporate Travel Policy

Passport Essentials and Other Requirements

Managing your Company's Travel Risks

Duty of care to travellers goes beyond borders