Purchasers take center stage despite negative feedback

29 November 2007
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29 November 2007 | Paul Snell

Procurement is becoming increasingly involved in firms' meetings, incentives, conventions and events (MICE) spend.

But this has created tensions with some suppliers and stakeholders.

A study, published this month by Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and the European Institute of Purchasing Management, found half of buyers have a strategy for meetings and events. However, only 38 per cent conduct detailed research into potential suppliers in the market, with 55 per cent using a list of pre-selected agencies. The survey of 276 buyers, agencies and meeting planners also revealed 78 per cent of firms use suppliers to provide them with a full service.

Joyce Dogniez, MPI director of operations EMEA, said procurement is becoming increasingly involved as companies want to consolidate spend and find out where it goes.

But this has raised problems such as misunderstanding, a lack of trust, and resentment between buyers, suppliers and internal meeting planners. Buyers often find it difficult to estimate their firm's spend in this area because it is spread across different business areas - one reason for procurement's increased involvement.

A report from the Aberdeen Group last month said the average spend on meetings by a large firm is £2.2 million. The maximum spend it found was £12.2 million.

MPI recently held a workshop that brought buyers, suppliers and meeting planners together. "A strong request from buyers was to open up the dialogue to understand each other's role," said Dogniez. "They want lots of information, but this is often dependent on the destination, venue and type of meeting."

The report highlighted that buyers want to see a clearer breakdown of costs from agencies and better transparency in proposals. But agencies were critical of buyers' inability to submit clear proposals.

Scepticism also remains about the value procurement can add to the process. "There is definitely resentment from planners," said Dogniez. "They do not see how procurement can support them or what they can bring. There needs to be an understanding of how each party can support the other."

  • British Standards has launched an accreditation to help buyers identify events and venues that are sustainable. BS 8901 trials were carried out last year at Live Earth and the Manchester International Festival.

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