How does global Travel Management Company CWT sell meeting rooms?

How does global Travel Management Company CWT sell meeting rooms?

70 %

are small transactions that are booked directly with hotels.

25 %

Share of Meetings & Events from the total turnover of CWT.

We interviewed Fredrik Hermelin, the Senior Director of Global Sales from CWT, a global Travel Management Company, on the topic of how customers book meetings and how is the Meetings and Events industry evolving.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what CWT is?

I work for the part of the business, which is the Meetings and Events, and I've been working on the project of online booking for small meetings for the last six years almost. Well, as we are a prominent travel company, Meetings and Events is just one of our core services. We have oil and gas resources, and we have consultancy services, and, of course, significant business travel. But Meetings and Events is about 25% of our total turnover today and one of the most essential and fastest-growing lines of business we have. And we are a company between the customer and the suppliers.

Fredrik Hermelin, Senior Director of Global Sales, CWT

"Having an online tool to capture small day transactions which are going directly that need to be managed will save our customers a lot of time, it will save the hotels a lot of time, and it will save us as CWT a lot of time. We can use that time to focus on the more complex transactions and give our customers an even better value."

Fredrik Hermelin Senior Director of Global Sales | CWT

What is the problem or issue you are trying to solve?

So what we are doing is that we are creating value for our customers and doing that with meetings in advance. Meaning that we are bringing consistency, we're finding the right properties, and we're giving them a value to the invested dollar. And today, we have found a significant need to truly capture the transaction from our customers sliding outside of the scope. So our customers today are booking on the strategic programs but realize that almost 70% of their meetings spend on small transactions which are booked directly with hotels. Therefore we cannot capture them, give them the data and the control, and the compliance. So to bring that piece of service and quality to our customers' transactions, we needed this online booking tool to make sure that we capture all transactions in a package.

Could you let me know how you resolved this issue?

Well, the business of the meeting to us is the people's business, so it's relationships very much in the meetings industry. However, as we see the need for control, risk mitigation, and data capture rising with every large company, we want to make sure that all of the transactions are kept within that. Historically everything is offline. We are working people to people, and we are managing a request, and we are giving them equality, we give them excitement and creativity. But all those small day transactions that are going directly need to be managed, and having an online tool to capture that spend will save our customers much time, it will save the hotels a lot of time, and it will save us as CWT much time so that we can use that to focus on the more complex transactions and give our customers an even better value. So in our world, having an online complement to our traditional offline way of working is a win-win-win for all parties involved.

How did you partner up with MeetingPackage?

The tool itself when we started to look at this back in 2016, we wanted to have something where our customers could find a venue or meeting space that they liked and maybe in a city that they needed to become more familiar with. So we needed to have some form of content database. We did this in every possible way with websites, and we collected hotels, and we packaged it up. But MeetingPackage came through with the solution of a true online search engine. You can find your venues, you can actually make a transaction or an inquiry. So MeetingPackage helped CWT to move from the analog way of working to give our customers the ability to search for the product they wanted and actually make a transaction. And that brings an enormous value to our customers today, specifically from our global, larger customers. In every RFP we receive today, the online segment is part of the request. Every big company is looking at this today, and that is where MeetingPackage will fill that gap in our portfolio.

So what has been your experience of MeetingPackage collaboration?

I'm laughing! It's been a great ride. Who are MeetingPackage? A startup company from Finland came in with a great story and a solution we all believed in. CWT was, wow, this is something that made us take a couple of steps faster than we could ever imagine. And that was back in 2016 when everything was just starting up!

We had great hopes, and with every new innovation that we had from CWT, from the TMC perspective, coming with our customers' request, coming in with ideas that we never thought were going to come. MeetingPackage has been collaborative, really listening to the needs of our business instance, but also listening to the complexity of our customers. And trust me, we had many customers with complex requests. But the great thing is that collaboration is a constant, ongoing process. And never, ever have I met a company that says yes more often than I do working as a sales director! And that is the energy that puts us forward. So I think we moved in a couple of years high-speed technology.

During the Pandemic, we also had more time to reflect and think about our ways of doing business, the way we do transactions, and the needs that we have to find maybe office spaces, which is the latest piece of content. So MeetingPackage has helped us to think more openly and more innovative in every way possible.

How do you see the future with Meetings & Events in CWT?

Talking about the future of where we are going, I actually strongly believe that we are writing the future right here in real-time. And that might sound a little diffused. So let me explain that to you. Everybody is talking about the last missing piece of the puzzle to fulfill the Meetings and Events industry of services; we got everything else but the online transaction for smaller meetings. We have sourcing tools, we have offline, we have audio visuals, we have partnerships, and we have great people. But the last piece that needs to be added here is the online transaction for meetings inventory. And every week, we hear of development, new technology, and new agreements between partners in this topic. And every customer we have today is talking about this. This is what we want. We want to have that control.

I think 2022 will be an excellent year for us to secure online transactions, direct connectivity, more qualitative content, and a boosting number of venues coming into the systems, and we can probably connect multiple systems into one platform, hopefully, to give our customers a variety of solutions and opportunities. So I think history is written right here, right now, as we speak. That is the most fascinating thing about it.

What is the key to success in the M&E sector in the future?

The users, I believe, are the key to success. What we have to do is we need to put something in front of the everyday user, the bookers, the secretaries, and the people who support the companies with meeting transactions. There is skepticism today about booking a little bit more costly than the normal airfare or the hotel room. Booking a meeting space for maybe €1500 or $2,500 might be a little bit more like "Can I do this?", "Do I need approval?", and "Is this safe?". So when we can get the mandate from our company's procurement department, mandating the ways of working and getting those bookers to feel confident in that transaction and also seeing the result of the value it gives, I say that when we get the users to say, I can do this, I think we will see a mass movement into this. It will definitely be a part of the everyday transaction in the big companies ahead. And also, small companies, probably smaller companies, are doing more transactions like this, but large companies are putting into policies and strategies, and that is where we will be successful. So, yes, the future is with online booking.


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