Travel Made Easy at New York Life Insurance Company01/05/2005
01/05/2005 Collect and manage travel for 4000 attendees? Monitor conflicts in travel and hotel dates to reduce no-show costs? Not a problem, according to Ann Bruno, CMP, assistant vice president, meetings, for New York Life.
In addition to their 120 routine events, Board, and International meetings, New York Life manages their three major sales incentive meetings per year back-to-back each Fall, registering more than 6000 attendees and staff. Travel information used to be provided by the travel management company and maintained separately. With The Gold System from the ISIS Corporation (Oakland, NJ www.goldreg.com), the travel information is downloaded into the meeting registration system, and checks can be made against hotel data and travel information. Conflicts can then be flagged and the meeting planner can follow up with the attendees. “We find that some people think their hotel reservations automatically change with their travel plans, especially non-seasoned travelers,” says Ms. Bruno. “It’s important that we follow up to reduce the chance that someone shows up without a reservation and, of course, no-show costs. We find that with our new system, we’ve virtually eliminated the no-show factor from faulty registration information.”
Technology has been slow in coming to many corporate meeting departments, but three years ago, New York Life implemented a wide-scale upgrade to the management of their meetings. A state-of-the-art on-line registration system was put on their intranet, which brings existing data from in-house records into a registration system. The registration forms are pre-filled with known information and the attendees simply have to fill in travel, check-in, check-out dates and guest information. Different attendee types are linked to different forms. That way what’s pertinent to officers appears on the officer forms, what’s pertinent to agents appears on the agent form and what’s pertinent to speakers and staff appears on their forms.
The on-line registration system generates emails to the travel agencies with key information such as travel ports and requested travel dates so that agents can contact attendees with the attendees’ information in front of them. Attendees never have to be asked for the same information twice. “Agents need to be spending their time on their clients, not on registering for meetings,” explains Ms. Bruno.
At the entry level sales meeting, pairing attendees as roommates had also been a challenge. Now the system generates emails to prospective roommates before pairing them to assure each agrees to the other as a roommate. Attendees also have a choice to allow the system to pick a roommate for them, based on gender and smoking preference.
The system also allows attendees to register for optional workshops, spouses’ and children’s activities and indicate which meal functions they’ll attend. The entire registration process is geared toward generating hard information that will reduce the cost of the meeting. For example, if a certain tour isn’t generating as much interest as anticipated, it can be dropped prior to incurring any penalty.
Once the registration process in underway, registration information is downloaded periodically into The Gold System. In addition to the conflict reports, the system has more than 150 standard reports that come with the system. New York Life meeting planners also had custom reports designed to fit their very special needs. “All of our main meal functions involve intricate seating assignments. The first step in being able to seat a thousand-person dinner is to know who’s in-house. We’ve developed specific reporting capabilities that allow us to know down to the person who will show up for dinner and where they should sit. It’s a significant improvement over trying to use off-the-shelf spreadsheets. An integrated system is what’s key. When someone’s a no-show at the hotel, say, due to a last minute emergency, their attendance at all other functions is automatically cancelled and we know they don’t need to be transported back to the airport, so they don’t show on departure manifests. Our event counts reports are printed daily so we can see what our guarantee numbers need to be. These numbers are so critical to reducing our meeting spend,” asserts Ms. Bruno.
Some of the other reports New York Life finds noteworthy are those that populate the program book that is distributed on-site. The agenda, personalized itineraries, personalized departure notices, room drop reports, labels for welcome packets, special meal cards and hotel pick up reports are some of the many other reports New York Life employs. “All-in-all, we’ve taken the management of meeting data to a whole new level. The attendees love the efficiency and ease-of-use of the system, the planners love the reduction of the “unknown factor” and management loves the cost savings,” concludes Ms. Bruno. “It doesn’t get any better than that!”
For more information, contact ISIS Corp. at 201-337-8115 ext.38 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.