At a time when companies are expected to be more competitive, yet do more with less, many organizations utilize staff in dual capacity roles. However, this can pose issues when it comes to productivity, morale, scalability, agility, and efficiency. Outsourcing is one alternative to this dilemma.
While outsourcing is commonly used for IT, legal, facilities management and real estate it’s less common for services such as off-site meetings, conferences and travel incentive programs. The reason why may lie in these myths:
MYTH #1: Outsourced agencies offer nothing that internal staff working in a dual role capacity can’t do when it comes to planning, managing and executing corporate meetings, conferences and travel incentive programs.
FACT: There are several valuable advantages that outsourced meeting planning agencies provide that part-time, meeting planning staff can’t match. For example:
- Efficiency. Outsourced meeting planning and incentive travel agencies have the experience, knowledge and expertise based upon years of successfully executed programs for hundreds (if not more) clients. They have the processes, checklists and systems in place to ensure that programs plan for the “what-ifs,” meets objectives, leaves a positive impression on participants, and when applicable, has a long-term impact on behavior. Additionally, by hiring an outsourced meeting planner, internal staff can focus on their regular job duties instead of getting sidetracked into meeting planning responsibilities and obligations.
- Deliver Higher Quality. Market leaders don’t just spend more to attract and retain key talent, capture more market share, develop their people, and strengthen their corporate culture. They also recognize the need to drive innovation and deliver higher quality experiences and outcomes with each and every event. Working with an outsourced meeting planner brings the expertise and industry knowledge to enhance service quality as well as allows internal teams to plan, develop, execute and measure program content and related initiatives. In other words, outsourcing meeting planners worry about the details, so internal staff can focus on ensuring the content resonates with the audience and makes the desired impact.
- Contracting Knowledge. Using an outsourced meeting planner means that businesses gain extra insight into contract clauses that are unique to the corporate meeting and travel incentive industry. Little details such as attrition, cancellation or even contingency planning can be costly if left to chance. Outsourced agencies do the worrying so that organizations don’t need to incur the time, effort and anguish over the minutia within contracts.
- Negotiation Expertise. While in-house staff many be skilled in the art of negotiation for products and other services, it may be difficult to assess what balances the scale in terms of cost savings vs. value pricing for corporate meetings, conferences and travel incentive programs. An outsourced meeting planner knows where how and where to negotiate to ensure that savings are received when and where it makes sense; and that bundled solutions are carefully negotiated to provide the most value. This can be exceptionally valuable to organizations where internal staff are juggling dual roles such as procurement, and meeting planning activities.
- Vendor Accountability. Tracking, reporting and ensuring compliance is a difficult task especially when there are multiple vendors, contracts and so forth involved. It can be even more challenging when transparency in reporting is mandated. Outsourced meeting planners can help gather, compile and report to ensure appropriate compliance as well as provide the data internal teams need to process further reports needed for external data. This ultimately saves significant time, as well as streamlines reporting and its consistency which is invaluable to in-house staff who balance the duties of a full-time job and part-time meeting planning within an organization.
- Capability/Capacity. Even highly skilled and trained internal teams need a little extra support from time to time. Working with an outsourced meeting planner can help handle the details of planning, managing and execution so that internal teams can focus on the quality of the participant experience. It also means that when extra, qualified and trained manpower is needed it’s readily available. The real benefit is not just in the extra support, but in agility and scalability based upon the needs of an organization.
- Buying Power. Vetting suppliers and vendors, especially in a new city or location can be challenging. However, outsourced meeting planners have a huge advantage over most part-time, in-house event planners. Outsourced agencies have established relationships with suppliers and vendors from around the globe that are tried and true. Additionally, those relationships offer a distinct buying advantage which translates to ideal venues, beautiful accommodations, memorable and unique experiences, and value that can’t be found elsewhere.
MYTH #2: Using an outsourced meeting planning agency will cost more than utilizing an in-house employee working in a dual role capacity.
FACT: Initially it may seem more cost effective to utilize internal staff to provide meeting, conference and travel incentive planning. However, in the long run, cost optimization is often not fully leveraged, especially when the employee(s) are working a full-time role in addition to meeting planning activities.
In various studies, outsourcing to a meeting planning, event and travel incentive agency was found to:
- Generate an overall savings of 14-24% annually.1
- Provide a staff savings of 12-45%, depending on job/role/function2
But if the above alone isn’t compelling enough to consider outsourcing to a meeting planning, event and travel incentive agency, more recent studies show that cost optimization is not the primary reason for outsourcing. In fact, top performing organizations are utilizing outsourcing TODAY to gain a competitive advantage since doing so allows for greater agility, efficiency and effectiveness.3
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MYTH #3: Using an outsourced meeting planning, event and travel incentive company means giving up some control which is why using part-time, in-house resources is essential.
FACT: Control can often be the root cause which prevents success with event activities, but not in the way that one may think. For some organizations, utilizing employees in a dual role capacity (e.g. working a full-time role plus performing meeting planning activities) can pose problems with control. The lack of established policies, procedures, or processes can leave the company vulnerable; while in others, the control issue poses issues with scalability due to limited capability and/or capacity of staff.
Working with an outsourced meeting planning partner doesn’t mean giving up control. Rather, businesses working with an experienced agency actually gain more control because of the agency’s knowledge, experience and expertise and can leverage this to the organization’s advantage. As a result, organizations can lean on the strength of the meeting planning agency insights to make their jobs easier. For example:
- Managing High Expectations of Participants. Because of years of experience meeting planning agencies often have a better understanding of what expectations participants have and how to truly create a corporate meeting, conference, retreat or travel incentive special. This knowledge is carried over into every aspect – from initial budget discussions about the event to planning, managing and executing of the event.
- Overcoming Challenges. While everyone wishes for a flawless corporate event, there are likely to be some challenges along with way. Sometimes these can be budget constraints. In other cases it can be destination or travel requirements that present challenges. These are just a few ways in which challenges can manifest. One of the advantages of working with an outsourced meeting planning expert is they are skilled professionals who have the industry expertise to provide creative options, solutions and alternatives to solve the vast majority of obstacles or challenges that may appear throughout the process, as well as during the event itself.
- Sourcing Venues. It’s no secret that find the right venue is one of the most time consuming tasks that is part event planning. Working with an outsourced meeting planning agency takes the guess work out of finding the best venues, and saves the time as well as expense of sourcing the perfect venue.
- Creating Memorable Events. Satisfying a group – whether large or small – is a task. Keeping up with what’s new, unique, exciting, and will captivate participants is no small feat. However, working with an outsourced meeting planning agency can help organizations gain insights into participants. Then using industry expertise acquired through years of hands-on experience, earned relationships with vendor partners, as well as keeping up-to-date with the latest in exciting activities, the outsourced agency can help match the right activities with the right vendors for memorable and unique experiences for all participants.
Today’s organizations must continuously do more with less and do it better than all the rest. However, utilizing internal staff in a dual capacity for meeting planning activities can be challenging. The value that outsourcing services such as meeting planning and travel incentives to an agency can provide is clear. Follow market leaders for a competitive advantage: improve efficiency, effectiveness and agility through meeting planning, conferences, and travel incentive program outsourcing.
For more information about how Gavel International can help your organization through outsourced meeting planning, event and travel incentive programs, contact us.