Corporate travel association gains traction

BY ELIZABETH RICH

The Association of Corporate Travel Executives’ first Australasia conference delivered a strong program in late 2012, attracting 250 delegates.

Held in Sydney, the local ACTE chapter was delighted with the result which pointed towards a growing interest in the increasingly complex world of corporate travel management.
The ACTE program included the corporate meetings topic into its sessions, an area that is popping up on the corporate travel manager’s radar. It is not surprising to see that ACTE has started providing educational content and partner support to EIBTM. ACTE has already joined forces with AIME and plans on lifting its profile further at AIME 2013.
The meetings topic at the Australasian event was the Strategic Meetings Management Program or SMMP as it is known, a relatively new practice which is expanding out of the USA and pitched at companies wanting to identify and manage meetings costs, financial and contractual risks. It was presented by US speaker, Kevin Iwamoto from Active Network who believes the Carlson Wagonlit figure of $360billion global spend on meetings and events is understated. SMMP aims to more effectively capture a company’s total meetings expenditure.
A keynote presentation by a McKinsey & Co speaker on Big Data was highly popular with the audience, opening eyes to the explosion of available data and how it can be harnessed.
Peter Harbison from CAPA – Centre for Aviation, gave an expert wrap on the aviation sector, providing key insights on what can be expected in this highly dynamic industry. For those interested, a wealth of information is available on the CAPA website.
Risk was high on the agenda, with time devoted to the duty of care legislation impacting companies’ responsibilities for their travelling employees, including staff attending business events.
The accommodation session drew a big crowd, with frank discussion on accommodation pricing in some of Australia’s capital cities. Both sides of the corporate rates arguments were aired, with buyers complaining about lack of quoted rate availability in many cities enjoying high occupancies, and hoteliers pointing out the difference between corporate rates and contracted rates with guaranteed room nights. Accor appears to have come up with an innovative win-win combo deal of fixed rates up to 14 days out, with the switch then to variable rates.
For alert ears, you could pick up a sense that out there in the corporate world there exists a number of senior travel managers who are battle hardened and savvy, and they are turning their attention to the meetings “frontier” as they term it. They are worth watching.