Risk management of meetings and events is a growing priority for travel buyers, with current efforts ‘lacking’

26 February, 2019

While organisations are certainly making strides in the meetings risk management field, current efforts leave something to be desired, with new research showing that almost two-thirds (62%) of travel buyers highlighting that risk management of meetings and events is a growing priority for their organisation.

The new research from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) in partnership with WorldAware says current efforts are "lacking" with companies generally only sometimes conduct formal risk assessments when planning a meeting.

The research examines how companies approach the safety of meeting attendees and meetings, events, and incentive (MICE) travellers and was conducted through an online survey of 126 US and Canada-based travel buyers or procurement and/or sourcing professionals in Nov-2018.

It found that when planning a meeting, a quarter of organisations never or rarely conduct a formal risk assessment of specific venues. Similarly, 24% of respondents said their organisation never or rarely assesses the risk of meeting locations, such as a particular city or neighbourhood.

While most travel programs have a risk management solution in place, less than half (49%) have one that includes MICE data. This missing itinerary data could make it difficult for companies to track their travellers, and in turn, ensure their safety. One-third of travel buyers say it is more difficult to track employees when they travel for meetings than for transient travel, such as a sales trip.

It can also be a challenge for travel programmes to aggregate MICE data from multiple sources, since bookings are made through a variety of channels. These include a travel management company, a meetings platform or a meetings management company. "This can limit visibility, making it difficult to perform key safety-related responsibilities like pre-trip approval or traveller tracking," says the research.

In the event of an emergency, meeting hosts would likely need a way to communicate with attendees. A large majority (80%) of respondents did say they sometimes have a crisis communication plan for meetings, but it is only around a third (36%) that say they always have these plans in place.

But, these shortcomings may not persist for long, since most travel buyers agree that meetings and events risk management is of growing importance. Although some travel buyers do not currently have a risk solution that includes MICE data, a decent share (28%) plan to adopt one in the next year.

"Proper risk management can be the difference between a successful event and a catastrophic disaster," says Michael W. McCormick, executive director and COO, GBTA. "Although it's encouraging to see more organisations do assess the risk of meeting locations, the research shows that many companies have some catching up to do."

The full Risk Management of Meetings and MICE Travel report is available to GBTA members.