26 May 2017

The difference between a conference/event being good or great, often with a large number of delegates flying in from around the world, is dependent on a host of variables, one of which is appointing a reputable, meticulous, proactive travel management company (TMC) that can be trusted to deliver on time and on budget; every time.

Obviously, the TMC appointed must be able to effectively manage logistics such as flights, the coordination of transfers from airport to hotels to conference venue and any other travel-related services.

“What sets a good TMC apart is the ability to listen, really listen to clients, understand their specific needs and expectations, and then surpass them with a big idea while still attending to the smallest detail,” says Carol-Ann Williams-Brown, Club Travel Corporate’s Groups and Conference Specialist. “The event – whether a conference, team building exercise, gala dinner, incentives or year-end function – should be a seamless, inclusive, unforgettable experience that adds something of value to the delegate’s life.”

Although led and coordinated by the TMC via an on-site conference team appointed to be hands-on assistants to the project manager, the event’s end-to-end success relies heavily on a team of specialist suppliers.

“Once the TMC has the idea – the theme – they can begin to create moments of magic. It begins with the first teasers hinting at what delegates can expect, to branded clothing, conference gifts, arrival, room drops, décor, staging, entertainment, catering and guest speakers, to the final goodbyes and satisfied flight home,” says Carol-Ann. “It’s essential that the TMC builds a team of specialist suppliers with whom they have a time-proven relationship based on mutual respect and trust. Only then can they consistently make magical things happen.”

Essentially, the role of the TMC is to manage the successful complementing of different teams of people all with different skill sets.

When it comes to exhibitions, especially when travelling to foreign countries, the same principles apply. A good TMC will take care of all travel-related services including, if required, shipping the exhibit via sea or air. They will also manage the securing of a reputable specialist exhibition company.

“Choosing an exhibition company that exactly meets the client’s financial and physical requirements is essential,” says Carol-Ann. “The TMC should have good relationships with a number of such companies and, using negotiated preferred rates, secure its clients the best deals.

“Once secured, the TMC will brief the company who will liaise directly with the client. However, as the coordinator, it’s important that the TMC stays in the loop and can proactively or reactively manage issues as they arise.”

Transparency is crucial for the securing of ongoing, sustainable special business. A reasonable TMC management fee that’s within budget is greatly appreciated, especially when the TMC is perceived to have over-delivered.

“Honesty and integrity are very important in our industry,” says Carol-Ann. “Relationships based on mutual trust and respect transcend the inevitable challenges that arise during special events, especially when they are seen in perspective and professionally and positively addressed.”