News & Information
From now on all Outlook 365 users can get and use the brand new plugin in the Microsoft AppSource for free : Get the Addin Here!
The missing puzzle piece to optimize the mass of small meetings directly in Outlook is finally available.
What is the purpose of the addin?
Analogous to the already established Meeting Place Finder web application the plugin supports meeting organizers in the selection of the optimal meeting location precisely where thousands of meetings and events are planned every day: in Microsoft Outlook. The publicly available and free tool specializes in optimizing the meeting location with regard to the CO2 consumption of the participants on arrival and departure. By using it, up to 30% CO2 can be avoided per meeting simply by intelligently selecting the meeting location and thus making a significant contribution to the sustainability and reduction of your CO2 footprint.
Who should install the addin?
Every Outlook user who organizes a meeting with travel needs often or only occasionally will be given the opportunity to choose the meeting location sustainably after installation with the support of the Meeting Place Finder logic. No additional license or additional installation is required for basic use - only the authorization to install and use Outlook Addins. If you are not authorized to install the plugin, you can go directly to your Outlook 365 admin, who has the option of making the addin available to you individually or to entire departments of your company.
Ecological and economical
In its free basic form, the plugin initially "only" enables the meeting location to be optimized from a sustainability point of view - but there is also the option for corporate customers to use the addin for a fee with all known features such as travel cost analysis, working time cost analysis, hotel cost projection, travel security and access to the trade fair database. Here, the addin can be used in addition to the web application or only in Outlook and then also access all parameters stored in the system for your meeting and travel culture.
So, get involved!
Avoiding CO2 in the context of business trips has never been easier. With just a few clicks, you will receive a free CO2 analysis for the travel processes to your chosen meeting location and alternatives that require up to 30% less carbon dioxide when your participants arrive.
What can we learn from the crisis?
At this time, many are using the meeting and event stop to think about whether everything should continue as before or whether it is time to make meaningful changes to processes which are difficult to complete during the daily operation.
What can we do?
Instead of waiting until the situation relaxes and meetings and business trips at least partially get going again, you could take a critical look at your companys Meeting & Travel programs and also take measures that guarantee the security and productivity of the participants in the future and promote sustainability and cost awareness.
It is highly likely that many businesses will consider web meetings as their first choice, however, in some cases, you just cannot avoid personal meetings. These are too important to completely be cut out from the daily operations!
Therefore, the meeting organizers should think carefully about when and where the face-to-face meeting should take place. With the Meeting Place Finder this process can be simplified drastically.
This tool helps Meeting & Event organizers find the optimal location for events according to security, sustainability, travel costs, productivity and other criteria.
Let us hope that we can shake hands again soon!
What is duty of care and how is it usually done in companies?
A duty of care is a legal duty to take reasonable care not to cause harm to another person that could be reasonably foreseen. (https://beyondbusinesstravel.com/duty-of-care)
Duty of care is important in order to ensure that employees do not travel to regions at risk and if there is a danger, it will make it easier for the company to bring the employee back.
Travel advisory within the trip planning
Some businesses use external travel advisory services within individual trip planning or self-defined security levels for different regions in order to warn travellers that a certain destination is not safe. It also tells the travellers what they need to do or are allowed to do in order to be able to go to their destination. These measures could for example be armed guardians or special security.
Travel advisory during the meeting planning
However, it makes more sense to review travel warnings one step ahead during the meeting planning process to avoid inviting people to an endangered destination as:
1. The time period to check for alternatives is much longer
2. It is much more effective to check the location once rather than double-check the location for each participant and possibly cancel an appointment
3. Security measures can be planned centrally by the organizer to reduce the effort for individual security measures instead of every attendee
What risks are typically covered by these travel security programs?
• Pandemic diseases – for example COVID-19
• Political crises
• Nature catastrophes
In summary, this makes travel security warnings fundamental to business organization processes.
CONVIEN now provides appropriate warnings during the meeting organization with its Meeting Place Finder to help the organizers making a right decision.
What is a Strategic Meeting Management Program (SMMP) and for whom does it make sense?
Businesses often have a vague meeting management and therefore often lose track of the organization of meetings and events. In that case, a SMMP is needed.
A SMMP is a company-wide program that structures meetings and events in such a way that costs are recorded and reduced, and the company gets a clear reporting.
SMMPs are useful for all companies of a certain size and with a large number of internal meetings and events.
What are the benefits of SMMPs?
* Cost transparency and reduction
* Operational control
* Standardized purchasing processes
* Enhanced duty of care
* Improved sustainability
Without SMMP, decentralized and potentially chaotic processes arise without the possibility of monitoring and improving collaboration.
What are the typical steps to set up such a program ?
1. Analysis / collection of key figures
* How many meetings & events are being organized?
* How many attendees usually take part?
* Where do the meetings take place?
* How are the meetings organized?
* How many meetings are web meetings?
2. Definition of optimization goals such as...
* Cost reduction
* Productivity increase
* Improved work-life balance
* Expansion of the capacities of conference rooms
* Adjustment of guidelines and policies
3. Implementation of processes and solutions
* Rate negotiations
* Procurement processes for event locations
* Lack of resources for web meeting solutions and/or planning tools need to be fixed
* Meeting room capacities
* Meeting minute management
* Travel processes including duty of care and sustainability
The program is a tailor-made solution to the organizations’ specific needs and perfectly complements the corporate strategy. Therefore, it is used to standardize business processes, so employees can comply with corporate and industry conformity.
How can CONVIEN help setting up a SMMP and provide value with its concepts and solutions?
CONVIEN is an innovative software provider specialized in meeting and travel management products.
Our corporate travel and meeting management solution simplifies the most complex workflow processes, by helping companies to analyse and optimize their meeting culture.
CONVIEN provides standardized and tailor-made solutions, which make saving potentials transparent and optimize cost & CO2 footprint. It also increases productivity and safety of corporate meetings and events.
For example, the CONVIEN Meeting Place Finder supports the organizers in determining the perfect date and location for certain participants regarding :
* Travel cost
* Travel productivity
* Accommodation cost
* CO2 footprint
* Travel security and all reflecting existing travel and meeting policies to cope with compliance regulations.
The associated reporting supports organizers, human resources, procurement and travel managers in the continuous optimization of processes and cost structures.
Get started now and improve your business performance!
The aspect of sustainability has become more and more important in recent years, and therefore the trend is also increasingly turning to green meetings & events.
However, what are green meetings? The definition of "green" can vary drastically!
At a green meeting or a green event, environmental aspects are included in the entire planning process in order to minimize the negative effects of the event on the environment.
A green event is organized with the aim of minimizing waste and promoting sustainable action that goes far beyond basic "green" practices such as recycling.
Of course, it's important that that selected suppliers take sustainability into account, including recycling their own products and services throughout the year.
Often, meeting venues are selected according to which sustainable criteria they meet.
Many of these hotels are in rural areas or in quiet city locations, near a forest, meadow or a lake, which sounds very sustainable in the first place as they also offer for example social responsibility, a CO2 neutral stay, or regionality.
However, since many of the locations are in the countryside, with basically no access to public transportation, it means ALL participants must travel by car. This, of course, increases the CO2 footprint of each participant drastically.
In order to really have a sustainable meeting, it's important to not only think about food and drinks, events supply, etc. but also and especially about the travel of the participants, as it's with 70% the biggest CO2 producer at meetings.
Think ahead for a greener future!
Any optimization of travel processes and strategic meeting management should be based on a complete data foundation that considers not only the costs of MICE sourcing, but also the travel processes that depend on them. The goal is to streamline structures and increase transparency & savings driven by consolidation.
Transparent evaluation and analytical reporting of all activities are the key to strategic meeting management.
CONVIEN VENUE is designed to support and ease your corporate travel management. However, there is more to the VENUE Meeting Place Finder than “just” optimizing your meetings - with CONVIEN, the analysis of the companys’ meeting and travel culture is also possible.
Various reports such as the evaluation of the number of participants or/and the evaluation of the planning period (when exactly meetings are planned) are possible.
The latest release of CONVIEN VENUE gives a practical insight into the meeting experience as a basis for:
* Flight & Hotel rate negotiations
* Strategic Purchasing e.g. internal & external meeting capacities
* Controlling SOPs and Guidelines etc.
* Overall transparency
In conclusion, reports can help with the process optimization and enable purchasing advantages. With this detailed information, huge cost savings can be achieved in the area of company events.
Did you know that our planet has to deal with 3.374.250.000 tons of CO2 every year, which originates from business trips!
The travel of the participants is with 70% the biggest CO2 producer at meetings. Right behind is accommodation with 15%, food with 10% and energy needs & infrastructure with 5%.
The big challenge is, that personal meetings are crucial for the business - one cannot always replace them with web meetings, meaning smart solutions are needed.
Our approach is the Meeting Place Finder software, which analyzes millions of travel connections based on the places of origin of the attendees in order to facilitate the selection of the optimal meeting place regarding CO2 consumption, ticket cost and working time.
With the Meeting Place Finder, it is possible to manage the planning of the meeting all the way up to sending out the invitations.
1. The organizer determines the participants with their places of origin in the Meeting Place Finder software.
2. One selects one or more time periods for the meeting to take place. The Meeting Place Finder will then identify the optimal meeting places for thetime periods according to CO2 emission.
3. The organizer selects the optimal date by detecting the availabilities of theparticipants via the software.
4. One sends out the invitations via the software including the optimal travel recommendation for each participant. The participant is even able to book the trip via our CONVIEN booking engine.
Apart from choosing minimum CO2 consumption, we also provide lowest ticket costs and maximum productivity (lowest travel & labor costs). We are able to analyse travel & hotel costs and have negotiated flight & hotel rates.
With the Meeting Place Finder, travel policies and a control mechanism for procurement are also possible.
Individual needs such as multimodal travel search (Flights, Rail, Car), adjustable data sources (Amadeus, Travelfusion,...) and custom destination algorithms ( Company Seats, ... ) can be adjusted.
The user is able to have procedural freedom. They can choose between the anonymous and personalized mode. The Meeting Place Finder is compatible with integrated or external travel booking solutions.
Knowledge is power - especially when it comes to business travel. To run a successful meeting is a big challenge for many. That's why adequate solutions are essential to make business travel more efficient. A non-systematic approach to travel and bookings not only costs time and money, but also poses a security problem. In many companies, despite dedicated business travel, travel service providers will be searched and booked through other channels, called maverick buyers. Their main motivation is the hope of being able to save costs. However, if the buyer does not comply with the travel requirements, the costs incur through unused discounts, the time spent on research and in accounting for the aggregation and posting of individual documents. In addition, all companies have the duty of care for all their employees, which is extremely difficult to assess if the companies do not know where their employees are. That's why it's important that companies have an efficient Online Booking Engine (OBE), which is easy to use.
Some advantages for companies to use an Online Booking Engine:
1. This allows companies to map the travel organization holistically - from travel request to travel booking to travel expense.
2. Direct travel expenses are reduced through price comparisons, access to corporate and special rates.
3. Interactive travel policies prevent overpriced travel and, in some cases, if a travel is more expensive than allowed, it must be approved by a travel manager.
4. The travel organization is simplified by a profile management and standardized booking and billing processes.
Some advantages for travellers to use an Online Booking Engine:
1. Unified processes and the implementation of travel policies allows full control of user bookings and expenditures.
2. A fast planning of the journey on favourable terms and conditions.
3. The centralized travel process will simplify management and the day-to-day workflows leading to time and productivity management.
4. The traveller will get all travel solutions from one source and have the data organized in one place.
For employees to comply with the bookings and therefore avoid maverick booking, it is advisable to have clear travel policies that are openly communicated and verified. For the cost control, an overview of all travel costs is essential.
I developed the idea for CONVIEN when I felt I was spending more time at the airport than with my family. The main drawbacks during my business trips were unfavourable flight times and connections due to hastily selected meeting destinations. The associated long waiting and transfer times not only cost valuable working time, but also affect the work-life balance and thus productivity.
Constant travel not only tugs at my nerves - Almost every second employee finds business travel stressful, as a survey of the German Travel Association e.V. businesspeople traveling more than 50 times a year also complain about a significant disruption to their work-life balance.
Appreciation towards employees, on the other hand, has a positive effect on commitment and motivation. One of the signs of appreciation, in my opinion, is to keep stress for business travellers as low as possible. I found out that longer travel times, for example because of one or more stopovers, ultimately increase staff costs and burden staff, even if the fare is initially cheaper.
I imagined a system that allows participants to compare travel experiences for different meeting locations based on travel time, travel costs, and CO2 emissions. For the first time, this system enabled me to consider indirect travel costs, such as personnel costs due to long waiting times at the airport. In doing so, I discovered considerable savings potential - the foundation for the Meeting Place Finder was laid.
Based on the places of origin of the participants from different parts of the world, the Meeting Place Finder determines the optimal meeting destination. The CO2 emissions and the cheapest travel costs and subsistence costs are calculated for all participants, if desired including the indirect travel costs in the form of personnel costs.