Operations

Managing Big Groups Yourself

Posted on June 18, 2013 by

Page 1 of 2

Destination management companies (DMCs) act as middlemen between meeting planners and the vendors needed for an event. They mark-up vendor services. The end client gets some extra value, but they get hit harder in the wallet. And operators get less shine for their time.

What if you could cut out the middleman and provide group destination management services yourself? Why let a DMC step between you and the client, on your own turf, no less?

Well, for one, because it’s easier said than done.

There seems to be a Catch 22 with meeting and convention work: It’s hard to take on group work if you don’t have the backend support for it and it doesn’t make sense to invest in backend support if you don’t do much group work. The administrative cost of managing the logistics and data of large fleet movements can be prohibitive.However, advancements in destination management and group travel management software are tipping the balance in favor of operators.

Group travel software enables operators to take on more of the functions required to plan conventions and meetings. That improves logistics, saves time, and diminishes errors. The result is less overhead, less cost to the client, and larger profit margins. Tasks such as calculating cost and type of chauffeured service, assigning vehicles, coordinating arrivals and departures can be automated, while tools for project budgeting can help operators keep an eye on the bottom line or quickly offer clients quotes.  

Orlando operator Sami Elotmani of Destination MCO said PowWow Smart is a useful efficiency tool because it minimizes client acquisition costs by shortening its RFP customization and response time.

Orlando operator Sami Elotmani of Destination MCO said PowWow Smart is a useful efficiency tool because it minimizes client acquisition costs by shortening its RFP customization and response time.

Fixing the Manifest Mess

Manually inputting manifest data into a spreadsheet or other static program is an especially time consuming and

mistake-laden aspect of group travel. Say you have a group of 250 that needs to be transported from airport to hotel and back. With an Excel document containing 12 columns of data, you’ve got 3,000 cells of data. That adds up to costly man-hours and a sizeable risk for fumbling a reservation.

Ground transportation software PowWow Smart automates the input of manifests and grouping of travelers into vehicles. PowWow Smart lets users upload a group manifest directly to the system, which eliminates manual data entry errors. After validating all the information, the software automatically groups passengers into the most economic and efficient combination of vehicles according to parameters set by the user, which can be tailored to help users fit within a budget or make special arrangements for VIP travelers.

Pow Wow Smart's Evan Michaels (M) stands with Edward Brodeur (L) and Jeremy Katoff of Deem Ground (formerly Global Ground Automation)

Pow Wow Smart's Evan Michaels (M) stands with Edward Brodeur (L) and Jeremy Katoff of Deem Ground (formerly Global Ground Automation)

PowWow Smart allows the ground provider to do what the DMCs are doing, and capture more meetings business with higher margins. “People are not in the group business because they don’t have the backend system and operational support to do that,” said Evan Michaels, CEO of PowWowSmart. “What we’re doing is taking60% to 80% of the time away so anyone can be in the group business.”

Sami Elotmani, director of operations and affiliate relations, for Destination MCO and Worldwide Chauffeured Services has been using PowWow Smart for about four years and has found it useful. “It works as an efficiency tool because it minimizes our client acquisition costs by shortening our RFP customization and response time. It helps our meetings and events department present a compelling value proposition to our clients by offering manifest optimization as a convenient but free tool to meeting planners and DMCs.”

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