Corporate Travel Planner Goes Far by Investing Sensibly

No matter how tempting it is to invest in the newest, buzz-emitting digital technology, it’s crucial for management to force itself to stop and ask: Is this the right solution for this business and its customers? “It’s not about being on the leading-edge of technology,” says the executive of a corporate event-planning company. “[Management] also has to have enough discipline to say ‘no’ to things that customers think they want, but that aren’t going to work.”

Many predicted that travel-related companies, like car dealers, would be going away as soon as the internet gained popularity. Sales meetings at exotic locales, prognosticators said, would soon be relocated to dreary desktops, where a virtual destination might fl ash across the computer screen. For this company, however, it was important not to make any drastic moves.

Even when it first began investing in digital tools, more than 15 years ago, it focused on developing technology that would replace existing systems with speedier substitutes. Instead of using faxes and phone enrollments, customers relied on web tools to register for events. The company developed in-house technology to monitor complex events, which might require them to monitor housing or track the attendance at breakout sessions.

The company also developed the capability to aggregate all of its data, which it can analyze to come up with-or test-new ideas. While it has developed apps that can provide information, such as meeting agendas, at conferences the company has soundly rejected the idea of issuing wearable computers to its clients.

Why? It has studied enough data to know that event attendees don’t want to carry another device on their person. It’s that simple.

“It’s important to have a clear understanding on how these new technologies fit into the business model and how important they are for individual clients,” says the executive. “Most of the time it simply allows them an entry point. Technology is just a small piece of the overall solution.”

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