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Finding a Way Without a Budget

American Express Meetings & Events helps a client achieve 13-14 percent savings for meetings

Situation

It’s common for companies to host events and meetings throughout the year to bring customers, partners and employees together to move business forward. But what happens when companies don’t have an adequate budget for these events?

This is the problem a U.S.-based automotive company faced. They couldn’t run their business without critical meetings, so they needed a strong strategic meetings management partner to help them find savings and keep their events within strict budget constraints.

Solution

The automotive company has worked with American Express Global Meetings & Events since 2010. We arrange more than 38,000 end-to-end meetings and book more than 2.5 million rooms across 100 nations each year, giving us the experience to help this client with more than 400 programs each year and generally negotiate 13 to 14 percent savings for all their meetings . The relationship has been so successful that, in 2013, the CEO issued a mandate that employees must register with us for any meeting that has more than 10 attendees – that’s double the volume of requests we handle for the client.
Here’s an example: The client hosts one of their largest annual meetings in the same city as their headquarters. It’s attended by a lot of employees and external invitees from across North America, and the budget was particularly tight for the 2013 event. The client’s existing contract with the meeting venue provides a negotiated hotel room rate for individual travelers, but that rate generally doesn’t apply to groups. American Express Global Meetings & Events, however, helped the client negotiate a group rate that was even lower than the client’s usual individual room rate. To further help the client, we employed a common industry practice to offset some of their meeting costs by having external invitees pay a different hotel room rate – although marginally higher than the employee rate, it was still below the standard price. We included a link to the registration site on the invitations to encourage attendees booked at the right hotel, which also helped the client achieve its volume commitments with the hotel.
Percentages are estimated based on actual savings achieved in previous years

The hotel also agreed not to charge the client a cancellation penalty on the block of rooms held for the external invitees. This type of deal is often difficult to negotiate, but the client could prove they would make good on their end of the agreement. The client successfully fills most of the room blocks each year, and the hotel appreciated that they always hold the event in the same city as their corporate headquarters

Outcome

We put our event strategy and negotiation expertise to work for the client to help them achieve $13,200 in savings for this large annual event, which is above the average savings for their meetings. In particular, by charging external invitees slightly more than the employees for hotel accommodations, the client saved approximately $3,600, which they put toward a special dinner during the event – an activity that was not in their original budget.