In 2005, a major retail company elected to transition from a 6 person in-house meeting planning department to an outsourced model. They chose Ultramar Travel Management as their new vendor.
ChallengeThe client had a rapid transition and implementation timeline - requiring Ultramar Travel Management to implement the account in 30 days. The internal population was not originally apprised of the transition. The relationships with the meeting planning department had been long term and deeply rooted. Our client contact had not anticipated the degree of resistance to change that would result. There had been no previous mandate to capture data regarding meeting planning spend, frequency or the departments that regularly utilized their services. These files were all taken by the in-house vendor when they departed.
The challenge? Rapidly build relationships, gather data, become a knowledge center for the client's own processes and procedures, identify and gain the trust of key internal client players, build on that trust and gain advocacy, Deliver a program that delivered cost savings and exceeded previous service levels.
ActionUltramar Travel Management Groups & Meetings Division worked to gather data during the first six months as the meeting planning vendor. We held regular focus groups with key client contacts and really listened to the challenges they faced because of the change. We worked to identify trends among the challenges and developed our new roles with the goal of eliminating these challenges.
We took an observational and consultative approach to the account. We gathered data - on every facet of their meetings. We built a calendar and showed them the patterns we were seeing. We used the calendar and the contacts for the meetings we were seeing come to us to identify other sources. We took note of the properties they were choosing as venues and kept track of savings opportunities that may have been missed by their choices.
After the first six months, we had made a great deal of headway with trust. We were in the position to actively advocate changes in process that would create efficiencies and cost savings. We began making suggestions regarding vendor contracting that would result in large savings.
Once we had a year of data to analyze, we were able to present opportunities for savings that we projected would in a 22% overall savings for the program. We were delighted that the client agreed with our suggestions.
ResultsThe second year we actually helped the client achieve a 26% savings over the first year because of our program suggestions. Now, 6 years into the relationship, all meetings for this retailer come through the Ultramar Travel Management Meetings Division. They work on a daily basis with an Ultramar Travel Management Meeting Account Manager and a team of planners and coordinators.
We continue to build greater efficiency and discover savings opportunities as their internal needs develop.